Optimising stroke rehabilitation: Do short exercise sessions improve motor learning after stroke?

We are only just beginning to understand how rehabilitation after stroke may be optimised, and the need for better therapies is urgent. Promising new evidence suggests that exercise may help to ‘prime’ the brain for learning.


We aim to determine both immediate and longer-term effects of exercise on the stroke affected brains’ capacity for motor learning and to improve our understanding of the biological basis of rehabilitation.

Design: Interventional fMRI-study.

Current status: Ongoing recruitment for pre-study

Site/s: The Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health, Austin Health

Methods: Stroke patients will practice a motor learning task during fMRI. They will then perform a single exercise session before practicing another motor learning task during a second scan. By comparing their motor learning capacity and their brain function before and after exercise we will determine the immediate effect of this intervention. To assess longer application effects, half of the participants will perform short exercise sessions daily for three months. After 3 months the 1st testing session will be repeated.

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