JOURNAL ARTICLE

Home-based treadmill training to improve gait performance in persons with a chronic transfemoral amputation

Benjamin J Darter, David H Nielsen, H John Yack, Kathleen F Janz
Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation 2013, 94 (12): 2440-7
23954560

OBJECTIVE: To investigate the effectiveness of a home-based multiple-speed treadmill training program to improve gait performance in persons with a transfemoral amputation (TFA).

DESIGN: Repeated measures.

SETTING: Research laboratory.

PARTICIPANTS: Individuals with a TFA (N=8) who had undergone a unilateral amputation at least 3 years prior as a result of limb trauma or cancer.

INTERVENTION: Home-based treadmill walking for a total of 30 minutes a day, 3 days per week for 8 weeks. Each 30-minute training session involved 5 cycles of walking for 2 minutes at 3 speeds.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Participants were tested pretraining and after 4 and 8 weeks of training. The primary measures were temporal-spatial gait performance (symmetry ratios for stance phase duration and step length), physiological gait performance (energy expenditure and energy cost), and functional gait performance (self-selected walking speed [SSWS], maximum walking speed [MWS], and 2-minute walk test [2MWT]).

RESULTS: Eight weeks of home-based training improved temporal-spatial gait symmetry at SSWS but not at MWS. A relative interlimb increase in stance duration for the prosthetic limb and proportionally greater increases in step length for the limb taking shorter steps produced the improved symmetry. The training effect was significant for the step length symmetry ratio within the first 4 weeks of the program. Energy expenditure decreased progressively during the training with nearly 10% improvement observed across the range of walking speeds. SSWS, MWS, and 2MWT all increased by 16% to 20%.

CONCLUSIONS: Home-based treadmill walking is an effective method to improve gait performance in persons with TFA. The results support the application of training interventions beyond the initial rehabilitation phase, even in individuals considered highly functional.

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