Effects of two exercise training techniques on walking function in adult patients with stroke

O A Olawale, S I Jaja, C N Anigbogu, K O Appiah-Kubi, D Jones-Okai
Nigerian Quarterly Journal of Hospital Medicine 2009, 19 (2): 88-94

BACKGROUND: Patients with stroke usually demonstrate activity limitations manifested by reduced ability to perform daily functions.

OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of treadmill walking and overground walking exercise training on walking function in adult patients with stroke.

METHODS: Participants were forty (40) patients with stroke comprising 22 males and 18 females. Inclusion criteria included absence of any co-morbidity that could affect rehabilitation. They were randomly assigned to 2 exercise training groups (20 in each group). All study subjects received conventional physiotherapy rehabilitation for 12 weeks. During the same period, subjects in Group A had treadmill walking exercise training (TWET) while those in Group B had overground walking exercise training (OWET) in addition to the conventional physiotherapy. Outcomes were measured as (i) Ten-metre walk time and (ii) Six-minute walk distance. They were evaluated at entry into the study and at the end of every 4 weeks. Results at weeks 0, 4, 8 and 12 were used for analysis. For each of the 2 groups, paired t-tests were used to evaluate the significance of the differences between the pre-intervention (week 0) mean scores on both tests and the mean scores at weeks 4, 8 and 12.

RESULTS: With 12 weeks of exercise training, both TWET and OWET produced significant improvement in walking function (P < 0.05). However, OWET resulted in significantly greater reduction (26.8%) in mean walking time over 10 metres than TWET (22.6%); and significantly greater increase (45.2%) in mean walking distance over 6 minutes than TWET (31.0%).

CONCLUSION: Exercise training, especially overground walking, could be integrated into the traditional rehabilitation care given to adult patients with stroke.

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