Remote limb ischemic conditioning (RLIC) is a clinically feasible method of promoting tissue protection against subsequent ischemic insult. Recent findings from our lab demonstrated that RLIC robustly enhances motor learning in young, healthy humans. The next step is to determine which individuals would receive maximum benefit from RLIC before applying these findings to clinical rehabilitation populations such as stroke. Numerous factors, such as age, sex, body mass index (BMI), and cardiovascular comorbidities may influence the response. Sixty-nine participants aged 40–80 were randomized to receive either RLIC (n = 33) or sham (n = 36) conditioning. Participants underwent seven consecutive sessions consisting of RLIC or sham conditioning with a blood pressure cuff on the upper extremity and motor training on a stability platform balance task, with two follow-up sessions. Balance change (post-test–pre-test) was compared across participants, groups, and the factors of age, sex, BMI, and comorbidities. Participants in both groups improved their performance on the balance task from pre- to post-test. Overall balance change was independently associated with age and BMI. There was no difference in balance change between RLIC and Sham groups. However, RLIC significantly enhanced balance performance in participants with no comorbidities. Compared with our previous study in young adults, middle-aged and older adults demonstrated smaller improvements on the balance task. RLIC enhanced learning in middle-aged and older adults only in the absence of pre-defined comorbidities. RLIC may be a promising tool for enhancing motor recovery, but the accumulation of comorbidity with age may decrease its effectiveness.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)362-371
Number of pages10
JournalTranslational Stroke Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 15 2019


  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Comorbidity
  • Ischemic preconditioning
  • Psychomotor performance


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