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Gait characteristics of post-poliomyelitis patients: standardization of quantitative data reporting.

OBJECTIVES: To evaluate the differences in gait characteristics and gait symmetry of post-polio syndrome (PPS) patients ambulating with or without shoes and between subgroups walking with different walking aids and orthoses, study the correlation of these data with personal data, illness condition, physical health, frequency of using aids and orthotics and frequency of falls, and derive recommendations for standardization of reporting these data.

METHOD: Twenty-six PPS subjects ambulated with their own walking devices. We calculated spatio-temporal parameters and symmetry indices (SI) of gait using a data acquired by a motion capture system. We compared inter-subject differences in gait pattern for PPS groups that differed by questionnaire-obtained data of demographics, physical activity, polio history, falls and walking aids. Additional inter-subject comparisons were performed between normal subjects (n=16), PPS patients walking with shoes with/without an ankle-foot-orthosis (n=11), PPS patients walking with knee-ankle-foot-orthosis (n=5), and PPS patients walking with a walker/crutches (n=10). We also compared intra-subject variability in PPS subjects who were able to repeat the trials barefoot.

RESULTS: Our main results show that subjects who reported participating in physical activity twice a week or more had significantly better step time and double support symmetry. Subjects who use walking aids on a daily basis had significantly higher gait cadence and shorter stride time. Also, subjects that do not require knee-ankle-foot orthoses and/or walking aids walked with a smaller base width and better symmetry in stance and swing durations than PPS subjects who require these aids.

CONCLUSIONS: The gait pattern of PPS patients is related to numerous intrinsic and extrinsic factors. Standardization of the reporting protocol of gait-related data of PPS patients is crucial for patient evaluation and treatment design.

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