Does physiotherapy based on the Bobath concept, in conjunction with a task practice, achieve greater improvement in walking ability in people with stroke compared to physiotherapy focused on structured task practice alone?: a pilot randomized controlled trial

Kim Brock, Gerlinde Haase, Gerhard Rothacher, Susan Cotton
Clinical Rehabilitation 2011, 25 (10): 903-12

OBJECTIVE: To compare the short-term effects of two physiotherapy approaches for improving ability to walk in different environments following stroke: (i) interventions based on the Bobath concept, in conjunction with task practice, compared to (ii) structured task practice alone.

DESIGN: Randomized controlled trial.

SETTING: Two rehabilitation centres Participants: Twenty-six participants between four and 20 weeks post-stroke, able to walk with supervision indoors.

INTERVENTIONS: Both groups received six one-hour physiotherapy sessions over a two-week period. One group received physiotherapy based on the Bobath concept, including one hour of structured task practice. The other group received six hours of structured task practice.

OUTCOME MEASURES: The primary outcome was an adapted six-minute walk test, incorporating a step, ramp and uneven surface. Secondary measures were gait velocity and the Berg Balance Scale. Measures were assessed before and after the intervention period.

RESULTS: Following the intervention, there was no significant difference in improvement between the two groups for the adapted six-minute walk test (89.9 (standard deviation (SD) 73.1) m Bobath versus 41 (40.7) m task practice, P = 0.07). However, walking velocity showed significantly greater increases in the Bobath group (26.2 (SD 17.2) m/min versus 9.9 (SD = 12.9) m/min, P = 0.01). No significant differences between groups were recorded for the Berg Balance Scale (P = 0.2).

CONCLUSION: This pilot study indicates short-term benefit for using interventions based on the Bobath concept for improving walking velocity in people with stroke. A sample size of 32 participants per group is required for a definitive study.

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