Effect of Exercise on Physical Recovery of People with Locked-In Syndrome after Stroke: What Do We Know from the Current Evidence? A Systematic Review

Ying Man Law (Corresponding Author), Lan Fang Feng, Qui Liang, Li Jiao Meng, Peng Shen, Shuai Jiang Yu, Wing Yi Pao

Research output: Journal article publicationReview articleAcademic researchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Introduction: Locked-in syndrome (LIS) results from a brainstem lesion in the pons. Ischemic stroke is the most common etiology of LIS. People with LIS have poor mobility with serious complications due to immobilization. Benefits of exercise after stroke have been widely reported. However, little is known about what and how much exercise should be prescribed for these patients. Objectives: To explore and evaluate the effect of exercise on the physical recovery of people with LIS after stroke. Methods: We searched the following databases (last searched August 2017): EMBASE, MEDLINE, PubMed, CINAHL, AMED, PEDro, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, REHABDATA, Google Scholar, WANFANG, CNKI, and CQVIP. Handsearching of relevant journals and reference lists was also performed. The Oxford Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine was used to assess the evidence level of the included studies. Results: We identified 5 papers from 207 papers involving 35 cases; 26 cases had various degrees of improvement in physical performance after exercise; 9 cases had no change. Five types of exercises and prescriptions were adopted. Study designs and interventions were heterogeneous. All studies contained mixed rehabilitation interventions. A total of 8 different outcome measurement tools have been reported in the studies. Conclusion: Studies indicate a positive trend of effect of exercise for physical recovery of people with LIS after stroke including the improvement of muscle strength, tone, walking ability, and activity in daily living. Mixed physical exercises were used. The effects were not significant. No adverse event has been reported. The quality of the existing evidence is relatively low since the papers were either case series or case studies. Further studies are needed on exercise types and dosages for better prescriptions for people with LIS after stroke. This may help to extend their lives with better control of the complications and to improve their quality of life.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)90-95
Number of pages6
JournalCerebrovascular Diseases Extra
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2018


  • Exercise
  • Locked-in syndrome
  • Physical recovery
  • Stroke

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine

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