SITizen Buzz

Study Finds Stroke Survivor’s Inactivity Is More Than Just Lack of Motivation

Survey conducted by SIT students showed factors hindering stroke survivors from being active extend beyond a lack of motivation

 8 FEB 2021
Stroke Survivor Inactivity

In a study led by Assoc Prof Kwah Li Khim, Health and Social Sciences, SIT, and Dr Shamala Thilarajah, Principal Physiotherapist, Singapore General Hospital, a team of Physiotherapy students studied the barriers to physical activity faced by 38 stroke survivors from the Singapore National Stroke Association (SNSA), from June 2019 to December 2019. The study was led by Assoc Prof Kwah Li Khim, Health and Social Sciences, SIT, and Dr Shamala Thilarajah, Principal Physiotherapist, Singapore General Hospital.

They discovered that the top three barriers are:
-    Lack of suitable exercise classes or programmes for stroke survivors at fitness centres
-    Lack of assistance from fitness centre staff 
-    Feelings of tiredness or fatigue 

Other significant factors preventing stroke survivors from being active include:
-    Lack of appropriate exercise equipment at fitness centres
-    High membership fees
-    Motivation loss
-    Concerns about injuries and pains 

“Stroke survivors in Singapore walk an average of 5,382 steps a day. This is less than the recommended 6,500 to 8,500 steps a day for people with disabilities or chronic illnesses, and far from the recommended 10,000 steps a day for the healthy population. Physical inactivity is a complex problem that goes beyond the individual. Other than feeling too tired to exercise, lack of motivation, fear of injury and pain, we now know that there are many more barriers stopping stroke survivors from being physically active. These are factors that organisations and the public can help with to make the environment more conducive for stroke survivors to be active,” said Assoc Prof Kwah.

Assoc Prof Kwah and Dr Thilarajah will be collaborating with Sportcares - ActiveSG, Singapore National Stroke Association, and Republic Polytechnic to introduce MOTIVATE: a multi-modal training programme to promote physical activity after as stroke. The programme includes education and training resources for stroke survivors, caregivers, healthcare and fitness professionals on topics like health screening prior to exercise, selection and modification of exercises using gym equipment and adaptive aids such as arm and leg straps.
The MOTIVATE programme, which is due for completion at the end of 2022, will also work on establishing a pathway to improve access and use of fitness centres for stroke survivors in Singapore.

“After a stroke, survivors’ ability to perform activities of daily living may be impaired to varying degrees. Inactivity and reduced fitness have many consequences beyond increased risk of stroke. With the MOTIVATE programme, we hope to improve stroke survivors’ access to fitness centres. This is a step towards an inclusive society where stroke survivors have the same access and opportunities to physical activity as the rest of Singapore’s healthy population,” said Dr Thilarajah.

According to the Singapore Stroke Registry published recently, the number of stroke episodes had increased by more than 40 per cent in a decade – from 5,760 episodes in 2009 to 8,326 episodes in 2018. Most strokes are preventable through a healthy diet, regular exercise of at least 150 minutes every week or take 10,000 steps a day, and avoid smoking and drinking too much alcohol.

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