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Fitness trackers improve Stroke recovery in Neath Port Talbot

Stroke patients have a long road to recovery but using Fitbits made this journey faster and more efficient for a group in South West Wales.

Stroke is a leading cause of death and disability in the UK. There are more than 100,000 strokes in the UK each year. Furthermore, stroke is the leading cause of serious, long-term disability as patients’ motor skills are significantly affected.

Physical activity is important for people with stroke because it can help them improve their motor skills and reduce the risk of another stroke occurring. But taking part in physical activity can be challenging and people who’ve had a stroke can often be very inactive.

Neath Port Talbot Stroke Group is a friendly group of survivors and partners that meet regularly to help each other build a more meaningful life after stroke. They wanted to find ways to motivate and encourage survivors to do more physical activity. Working with Melincryddan Community Conference (MCC), a community development organisation, they decided to see if wearable devices that count steps or measure activity could help change behaviour and increase physical activity levels.

How

Digital Communities Wales loaned five Fitbits to Neath Port Talbot Stroke Group and MCC. Five participants wore them for six weeks to track their activity levels and monitor fitness.

Each participant established their own weekly health goals and was given support to achieve these goals. MCC volunteers, who had been trained as Digital Champions by DCW, helped the participants to use the Fitbit dashboard online and showed them other online tools to improve their health and well-being.

Impact

The participants reported that their activity levels had increased. They felt more motivated to exercise and some said they’d been able to lose weight.

Dwynwen said, “I think the project has been excellent. I will be getting a Fitbit of my own, for my birthday. I enjoyed monitoring my steps and heartrate and sleep patterns. It makes me want to try and walk more and it has allowed me to address specific concerns in regards to my heart rate and overall health with my GP.”