UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Intensity matters: protocol for a randomized controlled trial exercise intervention for individuals with chronic stroke Rodrigues, Lynden; Moncion, Kevin; Eng, Janice; Noguchi, Kenneth S.; Wiley, Elise; de Las Heras, Bernat; Sweet, Shane N.; Fung, Joyce; MacKay-Lyons, Marilyn; Nelson, Aimee J.; et al.


Rationale Cardiovascular exercise is an effective method to improve cardiovascular health outcomes, but also promote neuroplasticity during stroke recovery. Moderate-intensity continuous cardiovascular training (MICT) is an integral part of stroke rehabilitation, yet it may remain a challenge to exercise at sufficiently high intensities to produce beneficial adaptations to neuroplasticity. High-intensity interval training (HIIT) could provide a viable alternative to achieve higher intensities of exercise by using shorter bouts of intense exercise interspersed with periods of recovery. Methods and design This is a two-arm, parallel-group multi-site RCT conducted at the Jewish Rehabilitation Hospital (Laval, Québec, Canada) and McMaster University (Hamilton, Ontario, Canada). Eighty participants with chronic stroke will be recruited at both sites and will be randomly allocated into a HIIT or MICT individualized exercise program on a recumbent stepper, 3 days per week for 12 weeks. Outcomes will be assessed at baseline, at 12 weeks post-intervention, and at an 8-week follow-up. Outcomes The primary outcome is corticospinal excitability, a neuroplasticity marker in brain motor networks, assessed with transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). We will also examine additional markers of neuroplasticity, measures of cardiovascular health, motor function, and psychosocial responses to training. Discussion This trial will contribute novel insights into the effectiveness of HIIT to promote neuroplasticity in individuals with chronic stroke. Trial registration ClinicalTrials.gov NCT03614585 . Registered on 3 August 2018

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