The clinical meaning of walking speed as measured by the timed 25-foot walk in patients with multiple sclerosis

Jeffrey A Cohen, Arun V Krishnan, Andrew D Goodman, James Potts, Ping Wang, Eva Havrdova, Chris Polman, Richard A Rudick
JAMA Neurology 2014, 71 (11): 1386-93

IMPORTANCE: Walking impairment, a common clinical manifestation of multiple sclerosis (MS), is often measured in clinical practice and clinical trials using the Timed 25-Foot Walk (T25-FW).

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the relationship between walking speed measured by the T25-FW and the Physical Component Summary (PCS) score of the 36-Item Short Form Health Survey (SF-36) to better understand the clinical meaning of T25-FW walking speed in MS.

DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS: We retrospectively analyzed data from 3 clinical trials (Natalizumab Safety and Efficacy in Relapsing-Remitting Multiple Sclerosis [AFFIRM], Safety and Efficacy of Natalizumab in Combination With Interferon Beta-1a in Patients With Relapsing-Remitting Multiple Sclerosis [SENTINEL], and International MS Secondary Progressive Avonex Controlled Trial [IMPACT]) that included T25-FW and SF-36 scores as outcomes in patients with MS. Patients had secondary-progressive MS and an Expanded Disability Status Scale score of 3.5 to 6.5 or relapsing-remitting MS and an Expanded Disability Status Scale score of 0 to 5.0.

MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES: We used Spearman rank correlation and Pearson product moment correlation (r ) and descriptive statistics to evaluate retrospectively the relationship between the SF-36 PCS score and T25-FW walking speed at baseline and the 2-year changes from baseline.

RESULTS: Among all 2549 patients from the 3 trials, walking speed and SF-36 PCS score at baseline were significantly correlated (n = 2333; r = 0.48; P < .001). In placebo-treated patients at 2 years, the percentage of change from baseline in walking speed was significantly correlated with the change from baseline in SF-36 PCS score (r = 0.35; P < .001). Significant correlations between the change in SF-36 PCS scores and the percentage of change in walking speed at 2 years also were observed in groups receiving active treatment (r, 0.13-0.28; P ≤ .005). Among placebo-treated patients, 27.5% had a clinically meaningful worsening (≥ 5-point decrease) in SF-36 PCS scores during the 2 years. Walking speed declined by 21.8% in these patients after 2 years, but only by 5.4% in those without worsening of SF-36 PCS scores.

CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE: In patients with MS, walking speed measured using the T25-FW correlated with SF-36 PCS scores such that a decline in walking speed of 20% to 25% corresponded to a clinically meaningful worsening of SF-36 PCS scores. A 20% to 25% decline in walking speed may be a clinically meaningful threshold for defining worsening using the T25-FW in MS clinical trials and for monitoring patients in clinical settings.

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