Medical College of Wisconsin
CTSICores SearchResearch InformaticsREDCap

Two weeks of ischemic conditioning improves walking speed and reduces neuromuscular fatigability in chronic stroke survivors. J Appl Physiol (1985) 2019 03 01;126(3):755-763



Pubmed ID


Pubmed Central ID




Scopus ID

2-s2.0-85063648049   12 Citations


This pilot study examined whether ischemic conditioning (IC), a noninvasive, cost-effective, and easy-to-administer intervention, could improve gait speed and paretic leg muscle function in stroke survivors. We hypothesized that 2 wk of IC training would increase self-selected walking speed, increase paretic muscle strength, and reduce neuromuscular fatigability in chronic stroke survivors. Twenty-two chronic stroke survivors received either IC or IC Sham on their paretic leg every other day for 2 wk (7 total sessions). IC involved 5-min bouts of ischemia, repeated five times, using a cuff inflated to 225 mmHg on the paretic thigh. For IC Sham, the cuff inflation pressure was 10 mmHg. Self-selected walking speed was assessed using the 10-m walk test, and paretic leg knee extensor strength and fatigability were assessed using a Biodex dynamometer. Self-selected walking speed increased in the IC group (0.86 ± 0.21 m/s pretest vs. 1.04 ± 0.22 m/s posttest, means ± SD; P < 0.001) but not in the IC Sham group (0.92 ± 0.47 m/s pretest vs. 0.96 ± 0.46 m/s posttest; P = 0.25). Paretic leg maximum voluntary contractions were unchanged in both groups (103 ± 57 N·m pre-IC vs. 109 ± 65 N·m post-IC; 103 ± 59 N·m pre-IC Sham vs. 108 ± 67 N·m post-IC Sham; P = 0.81); however, participants in the IC group maintained a submaximal isometric contraction longer than participants in the IC Sham group (278 ± 163 s pre-IC vs. 496 ± 313 s post-IC, P = 0.004; 397 ± 203 s pre-IC Sham vs. 355 ± 195 s post-IC Sham; P = 0.46). The results from this pilot study thus indicate that IC training has the potential to improve walking speed and paretic muscle fatigue resistance poststroke. NEW & NOTEWORTHY This pilot study is the first to demonstrate that ischemic conditioning can improve self-selected walking speed and reduce paretic muscle fatigue in stroke survivors. Ischemic conditioning has been shown to be safe in numerous patient populations, can be accomplished at home or at the bedside in only 45 min, and requires no specialized training. Future larger studies are warranted to determine the efficacy of ischemic conditioning as a neurorehabilitation therapy poststroke.

Author List

Durand MJ, Boerger TF, Nguyen JN, Alqahtani SZ, Wright MT, Schmit BD, Gutterman DD, Hyngstrom AS


Matt Durand PhD Associate Professor in the Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation department at Medical College of Wisconsin
David D. Gutterman MD Sr Associate Director, Professor in the Medicine department at Medical College of Wisconsin
Allison Hyngstrom PhD Associate Professor in the Physical Therapy department at Marquette University
Brian Schmit PhD Professor in the Biomedical Engineering department at Marquette University

MESH terms used to index this publication - Major topics in bold

Isometric Contraction
Knee Joint
Middle Aged
Muscle Fatigue
Muscle Strength
Muscle, Skeletal
Pilot Projects
Prospective Studies
Single-Blind Method
Stroke Rehabilitation
Walking Speed