Examination of sustained gait speed during extended walking in individuals with chronic stroke

Peter A Altenburger, Tracy A Dierks, Kristine K Miller, Stephanie A Combs, Marieke Van Puymbroeck, Arlene A Schmid
Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation 2013, 94 (12): 2471-7

OBJECTIVES: To determine if individuals with chronic stroke were able to sustain their peak gait speed during the 6-minute walk test (6MWT), and to explore this sustainability across community ambulation potential subgroups.

DESIGN: Prospective cross-sectional study.

SETTING: University-based research laboratory, hospitals, and stroke support groups.

PARTICIPANTS: A sample of individuals with chronic stroke (N=48) completed a series of questionnaires and physical outcome measures, including gait mat assessment, during a single visit.

INTERVENTIONS: Not applicable; 1-time cross-sectional data collection.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: During the 6MWT, we measured peak gait speed and end gait speed to assess sustainability, along with beginning gait speed, total distance walked, and rating of perceived exertion. We also assessed maximum gait speed during the 10-meter walk test (10MWT). Finally, we examined these gait outcomes across the subgroups.

RESULTS: During the 6MWT, peak gait speed declined from .89m/s (SD=.38) to an end speed of .82m/s (SD=.36), whereas perceived exertion increased from 7.7 (SD=2.6) to 11.8 (SD=3.6). This peak gait speed was slower than the 10MWT maximum speed of 1.06m/s (SD=.51), but faster than the 6MWT beginning speed of .81m/s (SD=.34). The unlimited community ambulator subgroup was the primary contributor to sustainability differences.

CONCLUSIONS: Predicting community ambulation potential based on the discrete gait speed from the 10MWT and endurance based on the average from the 6MWT might be incomplete if gait speed sustainability is not also assessed.

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