The Effects of Cardiovascular Training on Corticospinal Excitability in Subacute Stroke

B. De Las Heras, L. Rodrigues, J. Cristini, J. Salib, R. Khalili, M. Mackay-Lyons, Damian Bailey, N. Dancause, A. Tang, J. Eng, M. Moig

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


Background and Aims: Cardiovascular exercise has the potential to promote brain reorganization during early stages of stroke recovery. We investigated the effects of cardiovascular training on different aspects of corticospinal excitability (CSE), a marker of neuroplasticity associated with functional recovery, in patients at the subacute stage of stroke recovery.

Methods: Patients (70.8 ± 22.72 days since stroke) were randomly allocated (2:1) into either 8-weeks of progressive cardiovascular training + standard care (n=25) or standard care only (n=11). CSE was measured using transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) targeting the first dorsal interosseous representation in the primary motor area of ipsi- and contralesional hemispheres. To quantify the chronic changes induced by training, CSE at rest was compared at baseline (T0) and after the interventions (T1). To quantify changes in the acute response, CSE before and after a single bout of exercise were compared at T0 and T1.

Results: No differences in chronic or acute changes in any measure of CSE were observed in the ipsilesional hemisphere. In contrast, cardiovascular training modulated chronic CSE, decreasing intracortical facilitation in the contralesional hemisphere (t(31.95)=2.54, p= 0.015). Similarly, only the training group modulated the acute response to exercise at T1, decreasing resting (t(24)= -2.25, p= 0.033) and active (t(24)= -2.92, p= 0.007) CSE in the contralesional hemisphere.

Conclusions: Cardiovascular training introduced in subacute stages of stroke recovery can induce significant modulation in CSE only in the contralesional hemisphere with no changes in the ipsilesional hemisphere. The functional implications of these hemisphere-specific changes in CSE for recovery need to be further investigated.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberO261 / #1102
JournalInternational Journal of Stroke
Issue number3S
Publication statusPublished - 31 Oct 2022
Event14th World Stroke Congress 2022 - , Singapore
Duration: 26 Sept 202229 Sept 2022
Conference number: 14th


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