BACKGROUND: Reduced mobility after stroke may cause a loss of muscle mass which may, in theory, contribute to disability. We investigated longitudinal changes in muscle strength, lean cross-sectional area and muscle mass in all limbs after acute stroke. METHODS: We recruited 17 patients within 72 h of hospital admission and measured (a) hand grip strength, (b) knee extensor strength and (c) arm and leg lean cross-sectional area on 6 occasions over 6 months. Appendicular and total muscle mass (dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry) were measured at 3 weeks and 6 months. RESULTS: There was no significant change over time in the strength, lean cross-sectional area and muscle mass of the arms or legs. We noted that muscle strength was substantially lower in all limbs compared with population norms. CONCLUSION: We found no evidence of a decline in muscle strength or mass in any limb after the stroke, which could have been attributed to reduced mobility. The observed muscle weakness in the ipsilateral side may have pre-dated the stroke
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