10/14/2011 02:26 pm ET | Updated Dec 14, 2011

Crossing Legs -- A Good Sign After Stroke?

Determining how likely patients will be to have neurological impairments after a severe stroke could be as simple as seeing if they are able to cross their legs, a new study suggests.

A small study conducted by German researchers shows that severe stroke patients who are able to cross their legs within 15 days after their stroke have fewer problems with neurologic functioning and are better off a year later than people who can't cross their legs.

Outside stroke excerpts said the sign could be useful in gauging the well-being of a stroke patient.

"In neurology, we are always looking for better prognostic methods; so if we could add another clinical sign like this one to our strategies for predicting how a person may be doing a year from now, that would be extremely helpful," Dr. Robert D. Brown, Jr., chair of the Mayo Clinic neurology department who was not involved in the study, told Medscape.

The study, published in the journal Neurology, involved 68 patients who had suffered a severe stroke, who were broken up into two 34-person groups based on whether they were able to cross their legs or not.

A year later, 20 people were able to cross their right leg over their left leg, and 13 people were able to cross their left leg over their right leg, HealthDay reported. One person was able to cross both legs and six people crossed a paralyzed or partially paralyzed leg over their non-paralyzed leg.

Researchers found that there was an association between ability to cross legs and brain impairments.

HealthDay reported:

"It looks simple, but it’s very complex," said Dr. Naveen Goyal, director of the Stroke Center at the Brooklyn Hospital Center in New York City. "It requires a good amount of strength because the leg is such a heavy part of the body. Also, coordination is required. Then there’s the ability to tell one side of the body from the other side."