Stepping towards prevention of bone loss after stroke: A systematic review of the skeletal effects of physical activity after stroke

Karen Borschmann, Marco Yiu Chung Pang, Julie Bernhardt, Sandra Iuliano-Burns

Research output: Journal article publicationReview articleAcademic researchpeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


Bone loss after stroke is pronounced, and contributes to increased fracture risk. People who fracture after stroke experience reduced mobility and increased mortality. Physical activity can maintain or improve bone mineral density and structure in healthy older adults, likely reducing fracture risk. The purpose of this systematic review was to investigate the skeletal effects of physical activity in adults affected by stroke. A search of electronic databases was undertaken. Selection criteria of trials were • prospective and controlled • physical activity-based intervention • participants with history of stroke, and • bone-related outcome measures. Effect sizes were calculated for outcomes of paretic and nonparetic limbs. Three of 349 identified records met the inclusion criteria. Small effect sizes were found in favor of physical activity in adults with chronic stroke (n=95, 40% female, average age 63·8 years, more than one-year poststroke). Patients in intervention groups had significantly higher changes in femoral neck bone mineral density, tibial cortical thickness and trabecular bone mineral content of the paretic limb, compared with controls (P<0·05). It is not known whether these benefits reduced fracture risk. There are limited studies investigating the skeletal effect of physical activity for adults poststroke. Given the increased risk of, and poor outcomes following a fracture after stroke, randomized trials are warranted to investigate the benefits of physical activity on bone, after stroke. Interventions are likely to be beneficial if implemented soon after stroke, when bone loss appears to be rapid and pronounced. International Journal of Stroke
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)330-335
Number of pages6
JournalInternational Journal of Stroke
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2012


  • Bone
  • Exercise
  • Fracture
  • Osteoporosis
  • Physical activity
  • Stroke
  • Systematic review

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology

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