Exercise-Based Stroke Rehabilitation: Clinical Considerations Following the COVID-19 Pandemic

Kevin Moncion, Lynden Rodrigues, Marilyn MacKay-Lyons, Janice J. Eng, Sandra A. Billinger, Michelle Ploughman, Damian M. Bailey, Michael Trivino, Mark Bayley, Alexander Thiel, Marc Roig, Ada Tang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

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Background. The COVID-19 pandemic attributable to the severe acute respiratory syndrome virus (SARS-CoV-2) has had a significant and continuing impact across all areas of healthcare including stroke. Individuals post-stroke are at high risk for infection, disease severity, and mortality after COVID-19 infection. Exercise stroke rehabilitation programs remain critical for individuals recovering from stroke to mitigate risk factors and morbidity associated with the potential long-term consequences of COVID-19. There is currently no exercise rehabilitation guidance for people post-stroke with a history of COVID-19 infection. Purpose. To (1) review the multi-system pathophysiology of COVID-19 related to stroke and exercise; (2) discuss the multi-system benefits of exercise for individuals post-stroke with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 infection; and (3) provide clinical considerations related to COVID-19 for exercise during stroke rehabilitation. This article is intended for healthcare professionals involved in the implementation of exercise rehabilitation for individuals post-stroke who have suspected or confirmed COVID-19 infection and non-infected individuals who want to receive safe exercise rehabilitation. Results. Our clinical considerations integrate pre-COVID-19 stroke (n = 2) and COVID-19 exercise guidelines for non-stroke populations (athletic [n = 6], pulmonary [n = 1], cardiac [n = 2]), COVID-19 pathophysiology literature, considerations of stroke rehabilitation practices, and exercise physiology principles. A clinical decision-making tool for COVID-19 screening and eligibility for stroke exercise rehabilitation is provided, along with key subjective and physiological measures to guide exercise prescription. Conclusion. We propose that this framework promotes safe exercise programming within stroke rehabilitation for COVID-19 and future infectious disease outbreaks.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-16
Number of pages14
JournalNeurorehabilitation and Neural Repair
Issue number1
Early online date28 Oct 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2022


  • Review Articles
  • Stroke
  • COVID-19
  • exercise
  • rehabilitation
  • clinical practice guidelines
  • evidence-based practice


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