Introduction: In recent years, researchers have focused their attention on the application of sling exercise therapy in stroke rehabilitation,but results have been inconsistent. The aim of this trial was to explore the effectiveness of sling exercise therapy on balance, mobility, activities of daily living, quality of life and shoulder pain in stroke patients compared with routine physiotherapy.

Methods: A total of 50 stroke inpatients at The First Affiliated Hospital of the University of South China, Hengyang, Hunan,China,were randomly allocated into one of the two groups: the sling exercise therapy(SET) group (n = 25) received this therapy using a suspension device, and the control group (n = 25) participated routine physiotherapy.

The interventions in both groups were performed once a day for 30 min, five times per week for four weeks. Measurements were undertaken prior to and after
interventions in both groups. The observational indicies included balance function (Berg Balance Scale, BBS), motor function of the upper and lower limbs (Fugl-Meyer Assessment, FMA), daily living ability (Barthel Index, BI), quality of life (Short Form 36, SF-36), and shoulder pain (Visual Analogue Scale, VAS).

Results: After therapy, both the SET group and the control group had significant improvements in BBS, FMA, BI and VAS. Sling exercise therapy improved balance ability (△BBS:Z=-2.16, P = 0.031),

upper limb motor function (△Fugl- Meyer-upper:Z= -3.88,P = 0.000) and shoulder pain (△VAS:t = 2.64, P = 0.012) more effectively than routine training in stroke patients. Positive changes in quality of life were found in both groups, although the difference between the two groups was not statistically significant.

onclusions: The sling exercise therapy has been shown to be a safe and effective method to improve balance, mobility, activities of daily living, quality of life and shoulder pain in stroke patients.

It could be an important therapeutic strategy to promote comprehensive functional recovery post-stroke. Keywords: Stroke, Sling, Exercise therapy, Rehabilitation, Physiotherapy, Randomized controlled trial,