Cross Your Legs After a Stroke

Stroke recovery indicated by body position

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) It might seem like a simple move, but the ability to cross your legs soon after a stroke may help indicate how a patient's recovery will go and aid doctors in determining which have the best shot at recovery.

Individuals who can cross their legs shortly after a severe stroke tend to have a stronger recovery than those who can't manage to cross them.

"Seek immediate treatment for stroke symptoms."

Dr. Berend Feddersen, the lead study author from the University of Munich in Germany, said that though severe strokes leave some patients with a slight loss of movement and even reduced consciousness, he noticed that some were still unable to cross their legs, which is not as easy as it seems. He said that if the finding is confirmed, leg crossing could be an easy way for doctors to determine which patients have the best chance at recovery.

Researchers studied 68 patients who had experienced a severe stroke and needed intensive care treatment. Participants were divided into two groups of 34 patients -- one group which could cross the legs while the other could not. The patients were followed for one year and were tested to assess their disability and independence.

Investigators determined that patients who could cross their legs within 15 days of a severe stroke were more likely to have better independence in daily life, fewer neurological problems and lower death rates.

At the conclusion of one year only one person among those who could cross their legs died while 18 individuals, or 53 percent, of those who could not cross their legs died.

Both groups also were given a score using the National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale, which can predict the severity and outcomes of stroke. Patients who could cross their legs has fewer neurological problems after hospital discharge with an average of 6.5 on the scale. Those that could not cross their legs averaged a 10.6.

Leg-crossers also had an average score of 2.9 on the Rankin Scale, indicating they were moderately disabled and able to walk unassisted, while the group who could not cross their legs averaged a score of 5, indicating severe disability that requires constant attention. Patients who could cross their legs also fared better on a test to determine independence.

The research was published in the Oct.11 issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

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Review Date: 
October 13, 2011
Last Updated:
October 13, 2011