New programme to improve stroke survivors' fitness and mobility

Dr Catherine Dong (left), a visiting neuropsychologist at the National University Hospital Memory Clinic, showing stroke survivors Denise Hu (centre) and Liew Teck Chye how a memory training activity is done at the Enabling Village.
Dr Catherine Dong (left), a visiting neuropsychologist at the National University Hospital Memory Clinic, showing stroke survivors Denise Hu (centre) and Liew Teck Chye how a memory training activity is done at the Enabling Village.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - A new fitness programme that improves stroke survivors' mobility was launched on Friday (Oct 27), at the Stroke Support Station (S3) Open House at the Enabling Village in Lengkok Bahru.

The S3 Walk-On programme uses data analytics and technology to improve participants' walking speed, stamina and stability.

It was developed by charity group S3 and BodyEngineering, a team that includes physiotherapists and sports trainers. The programme was piloted three months ago, with more than 20 participants aged 32 to 86 who had strokes between three months and 30 years ago.

Dr Kelvin Phua, S3 chairman of programmes and services, said some people who suffer a stroke do not continue physical training due to difficulties in coping with standard gym equipment.

Under its Walk-On programme, special technology is first used to precisely measure a participant's body movements to identify critical weaknesses, and then to improve these weaknesses.

For instance, an anti-gravity treadmill is used to allow stroke survivors to exercise despite their disabilities. Based on space technology to simulate weightlessness while exercising, the treadmill lets people walk but with less impact on their joints and muscles compared to ordinary treadmills.

Mrs Teo Poh Yim, founder of S3, said: "It is important that we explore innovative solutions to address community long-term support for stroke patients to achieve greater independence and support for the caregivers."

Dr Phua said participants of the pilot programme have seen improvements in their mobility. One of them had his first stroke eight years ago, and another one eight months ago that left him requiring a wheelchair.

After six sessions, including some with the use of the anti-gravity treadmill, he could walk slowly without needing a cane or walking aid.

S3 also launched a new brain health and memory training programme on Friday. More than half of stroke patients develop memory and thinking difficulties.

The programme teaches participants strategies to help improve their memory and attention spans, manage their stress at work, and learn planning and organisational skills, among others.