A program at the YMCA called ‘Fit for Function’ incorporates real life challenges into exercise for stroke survivors. The program expanded recently to YMCA’s in Niagara, Hamilton and Brantford.
“We know that stroke survivors do well with meaningful, challenging functional types of exercise, rather than a straight forward bicep curl.” That’s why these stroke survivors are using real life simulations aimed at both improving their fitness level and helping them return to normalcy.
“Sometimes stroke survivors can use two hands to carry objects, sometimes they need to learn how to use one better, but very functional things that they would need to do around the house or out in the community.” Says research coordinator Catherine McBay.
They’re part of a research study that’s measuring how functional exercise compares to regular exercise at helping stroke survivors reintegrate into their former lives. Half of participants attend ‘Fit for Function’, the other half are given standard YMCA memberships.
Dr. Demitrios Sahlas says the tasks can trigger the brain to build new connections. “If you actually get up and start doing the things you did before, it’s a signal to the brain, yes you do have to heal yourself if you want to be able to do these things again and that stimulates recovery.”
The research team will continue collecting data for a year before analysing their results.