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Stroke Research and Treatment
Volume 2012, Article ID 103697, 12 pages
Review Article

Exercise Protects Bone after Stroke, or Does It? A Narrative Review of the Evidence

Florey Neuroscience Institutes, 245 Burgundy Street, Heidelberg VIC 3084, Australia

Received 9 June 2011; Revised 27 July 2011; Accepted 15 August 2011

Academic Editor: Gillian Mead

Copyright © 2012 Karen Borschmann. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Physical inactivity contributes to accelerated bone loss after stroke, leading to heightened fracture risk, increased mortality, and reduced independence. This paper sought to summarise the evidence for the use of physical activity to protect bone in healthy adults and adults with stroke, and to identify international recommendations regarding any means of bone protection after stroke, in order to guide rehabilitation practice and future research. A search was undertaken, which identified 12 systematic reviews of controlled trials which investigated the effect of physical activity on bone outcomes in adults. Nine reviews included healthy adults and three included adults with stroke. Twenty-five current international stroke management guidelines were identified. High-impact loading exercise appears to have a site-specific effect on the microarchitecture of healthy postmenopausal women, and physical activity has a small effect on enhancing or maintaining bone mineral density in chronic stroke patients. It is not known whether this translates to reduce fracture risk. Most guidelines included recommendations for early mobilisation after stroke and falls prevention. Two recommendations were identified which advocated exercise for the prevention bone loss after stroke, but supporting evidence was limited. Research is required to determine whether targeted physical activity can protect bone from early after stroke, and whether this can reduce fracture risk.