JOURNAL ARTICLE

Are the 10 meter and 6 minute walk tests redundant in patients with spinal cord injury?

Gail F Forrest, Karen Hutchinson, Douglas J Lorenz, Jeffrey J Buehner, Leslie R Vanhiel, Sue Ann Sisto, D Michele Basso
PloS One 2014, 9 (5): e94108
24788068

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the relationship and redundancy between gait speeds measured by the 10 Meter Walk Test (10MWT) and 6 Minute Walk Test (6MWT) after motor incomplete spinal cord injury (iSCI). To identify gait speed thresholds supporting functional ambulation as measured with the Spinal Cord Injury Functional Ambulation Inventory (SCI-FAI).

DESIGN: Prospective observational cohort.

SETTING: Seven outpatient rehabilitation centers from the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation NeuroRecovery Network (NRN).

PARTICIPANTS: 249 NRN patients with American Spinal Injury Association Impairment Scale (AIS) level C (n = 20), D (n = 179) and (n = 50) iSCI not AIS evaluated, from February 2008 through April 2011.

INTERVENTIONS: Locomotor training using body weight support and walking on a treadmill, overground and home/community practice.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE(S): 10MWT and 6MWT collected at enrollment, approximately every 20 sessions, and upon discharge.

RESULTS: The 10MWT and 6MWT speeds were highly correlated and the 10MWT speeds were generally faster. However, the predicted 6MWT gait speed from the 10MWT, revealed increasing error with increased gait speed. Regression lines remained significantly different from lines of agreement, when the group was divided into fast (≥0.44 m/s) and slow walkers (<0.44 m/s). Significant differences between 6MWT and 10MWT gait speeds were observed across SCI-FAI walking mobility categories (Wilcoxon sign rank test p<.001), and mean speed thresholds for limited community ambulation differed for each measure. The smallest real difference for the 6MWT and 10MWT, as well as the minimally clinically important difference (MCID) values, were also distinct for the two tests.

CONCLUSIONS: While the speeds were correlated between the 6MWT and 10MWT, redundancy in the tests using predictive modeling was not observed. Different speed thresholds and separate MCIDs were defined for community ambulation for each test.

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