The feasibility of aerobic exercise training in the acute phase of stroke
Nik is a SPARC PhD student and is funded by the SHU Vice Chancellor’s PhD Scholarship. He is investigating the utility of aerobic exercise training within a hospital-based stroke rehabilitation programme at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital, Sheffield.
Pre-clinical animal studies demonstrate that aerobic exercise training can improve brain repair and reduce disability after stroke. However, in clinical practice it is difficult for stroke survivors to undertake aerobic exercise due to lower-limb disability and a lack of accessible exercise equipment. Nik's research will utilise an exercise bike which detects leg weakness and provides motor assistance. The exercise bike is brought to the end of a patient’s hospital bed, enabling them to cycle without having to be transferred out of bed. Throughout this research project, Nik and his supervisory team have facilitated public involvement events to ensure that stroke survivors and healthcare practitioners have been able to provide critical feedback and offer their ideas to improve the project.
The key aims of this research are to assess: the feasibility of the exercise intervention (e.g. safety and tolerability); the feasibility of conducting a randomised controlled trial (e.g. recruitment and attrition); the acute physiological effects of aerobic exercise (e.g. cerebral blood flow measured using ultrasound); and the longer-term impact of the intervention on exercise self-efficacy, participation in physical activity and exercise, and measures of physical and cognitive function assessed three months after discharge from hospital.
Before his PhD, Nik worked in a variety of roles including as a research assistant and physiology technician at SHU, a lifestyle practitioner for an NHS diabetes service, a health coach for the National Diabetes Prevention Programme, and as a self-employed personal trainer. Prior to entering higher education, Nik was a professional football player for Burnley FC but retired due to a knee injury.
Nik completed an MSc in Clinical Exercise Physiology at Northumbria University, graduating with distinction. For his MSc dissertation, he conducted a national survey of cardiac rehabilitation service provision. Nik attained a BSc in Sports Science with first-class honours at the University of Central Lancashire. At undergraduate level, Nik’s main focus was on the use of GPS and heart rate technology in football and rugby, and he completed student placements at West Ham United FC, Wigan Warriors RLFC, Preston North End FC, and Fleetwood Town FC.
In his spare time, Nik enjoys cycling, travelling and creating digital illustrations.
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