The effect of rhythmic auditory stimulation on the gait parameters of patients with incomplete spinal cord injury: an exploratory pilot study

Shannon K de l'Etoile
International Journal of Rehabilitation Research. Revue Internationale de Recherches de Réadaptation 2008, 31 (2): 155-7
This exploratory pilot study examined the immediate entrainment effects of rhythmic auditory stimulation on the gait parameters of cadence, velocity, and stride length in patients with incomplete spinal cord injury. Seventeen patients with incomplete spinal cord injury, mean age of 41 years and on average 5.88 years postinjury, participated in a within-subjects repeated measures design with counterbalanced conditions. Participants completed four, 10-meter walks: walk 1, participants walked at their normal pace without rhythm; walk 2, participants walked to a rhythm set to the tempo of their uncued normal walk; walk 3, participants walked as fast as safely possible, without auditory rhythm; and walk 4, participants walked to an auditory rhythm set 5% higher than their uncued fast walk. Mean scores for cadence and velocity decreased with rhythmic cueing at the normal tempo, whereas average stride length increased. On average, all parameters decreased at the fast tempo. No changes were statistically significant and no interaction emerged between cueing and tempo for any gait parameter. Despite the lack of effects, many participants were able to entrain with rhythm at the normal tempo, as evidenced by small improvements in cadence and velocity. Patient response to rhythmic cueing may differ according to age and level of injury. Younger participants were more likely to increase velocity and stride length at the fast tempo (P=0.025). At the normal tempo, patients with cervical injuries tended to increase cadence, whereas patients with thoracic injuries showed improvements in stride length and velocity.

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