Researchers have launched a study into the role aerobic exercise has on the recovery of patients who have suffered a stroke.

Bernadette Chow was one of the first participants in the research project. In the four weeks immediately after having a stroke, Bernadette took part in vigorous physical activity.

“What happened to me was like a tornado that hit my body,” explains Bernadette. “It just ripped me apart and I had to get it back together again.”

During her initial workouts, Bernadette was harnessed to the treadmill and required the assistance of two physiotherapists. These days, her physical strength and speech have improved immensely.

According to researchers, people who have suffered strokes are capable of exercising at a much higher intensity than medical experts previously believed.

Dr. Sean Dukelow, Alberta Health Services stroke specialist, says the study looks to prove that stroke patients can handle increased activity and the exercise will help their recovery.

“We expect individuals receiving more, higher intensity exercise will have better outcomes,” explains Dr. Dukelow. “They'll walk faster, they'll have better cardiovascular outcomes, they may even have better cognitive outcomes and their mood will be better at the end of the study.”

The research study is being conducted in Calgary, Vancouver and Toronto. Presently, six patients are being studied in Calgary but researchers hope to recruit an additional two dozen patients.