January 16, 2019

A CPSR-funded course designed to educate physiotherapists on the AEROBICS guidelines (best practice recommendations for aerobic exercise after stroke) is helping to change practice across Canada and improve the quality of life of people living with stroke.

Available on the CPSR-funded Stroke Engine website https://www.strokengine.ca/elearning/eaerobics/ and the Canadian Physiotherapy Association's (CPA) digital learning platform "Embodia", the e-AEROBICS course has been accessed by more than 900 clinicians since 2017. And, all four digital learning modules have been completed by about 350 course graduates -- a number that is expected to grow substantially this year with CPA involvement and the recent incorporation of the course into university training programs.

The initiative began in 2014 when CPSR awarded $70,000 to the e-AEROBICS research team, led by Marianne Thornton at OHRI and Dr. Marilyn MacKay-Lyons at Dalhousie University, to develop (and then trial) four digital learning modules with physiotherapists working with people with stroke. Using feedback from study participants, the modules were modified to address practical needs of therapists working in various environments (geographical, technical and clinical), and to incorporate adult learning principles and practical clinical questions. 

“It is exciting that there has been such widespread usage of the modules," Thornton says. "This is one step toward increasing awareness of the AEROBICS recommendations, including practical knowledge of how to apply the information to practice.” 

“We are indebted to CPSR for their support of e-AEROBICS that will ultimately help people after stroke participate in aerobic exercise - an intervention of proven potency to improve physical and mental health,” Dr. MacKay-Lyons says.

In 2017, the course was added to the popular Stroke Engine website's e-learning platform and, in late August 2018, it was activated on the Canadian Physiotherapy Association's Embodia platform. In addition, the University of Ottawa incorporated the course into its physiotherapy training and, in Saskatchewan, it was added to the curriculum for nursing and personal support workers. 

Two publications are in development to describe the process of creation of these modules, and to share the results of the study.

AEROBICS guidelines are now in the process of being updated. In 2017, researchers received funding of $5,000 from CPSR to write an update of the original 2013 AEROBICs document. The updated document, AEROBICS 2019 Update, has just been completed and an executive summary of the Update will be submitted for publication, Dr. MacKay-Lyons says.

The end goal of the project? To enable therapists to become more confident and skilled in screening for and prescribing aerobic exercise post-stroke in order to improve quality of life and prevent recurrent stroke.
Other CPSR-funded online tools available on Stroke Engine's e-learning platform include ViaTherapy, best practice and evidence-based interventions for upper extremity stroke rehabiliation, and iWalk, the latest evidence-informed approach to walking assessment post-stroke.