Nonparetic knee extensor strength is the determinant of exercise capacity of community-dwelling stroke survivors

Wei-Te Wang, Ling-Tzu Huang, Ya-Hui Chou, Ta-Sen Wei, Chung-Che Lin
TheScientificWorldJournal 2014, 2014: 769875

OBJECTIVE: To investigate the relationship among walking speed, exercise capacity, and leg strength in community dwelling stroke subjects and to evaluate which one was the leading determinant factor of them.

DESIGN: This is a descriptive, cross-sectional study. Thirty-five chronic stroke patients who were able to walk independently in their community were enrolled. Walking speed was evaluated by using the 12-meter walking test. A maximal exercise test was used to determine the stroke subjects' exercise capacity. Knee extensor strength, measured as isokinetic torque, was assessed by isokinetic dynamometer.

RESULTS: The main walking speed of our subjects was 0.52 m/s. Peak oxygen uptake (VO₂ peak) was 1.21 ± 0.43 L/min. Knee extensor strength, no matter whether paretic or nonparetic side, was significantly correlated to 12-meter walking speed and exercise capacity. Linear regression also showed the strength of the affected knee extensor was the determinant of walking speed and that of the nonparetic knee extensor was the determinant of exercise capacity in community dwelling stroke subjects.

CONCLUSIONS: Walking speed and peak oxygen uptake were markedly decreased after stroke. Knee extensor strength of nonparetic leg was the most important determinant of exercise capacity of the community-dwelling stroke subjects. Knee extensor strengthening should be emphasized to help stroke patient to achieve optimal community living.

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