The Use of Cuff Weights for Aquatic Gait Training in People Post-Stroke with Hemiparesis

Ryota Nishiyori, Byron Lai, Do Kyeong Lee, Konstantinos Vrongistinos, Taeyou Jung
Physiotherapy Research International: the Journal for Researchers and Clinicians in Physical Therapy 2016, 21 (1): 47-53

BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: This study aimed to examine how spatiotemporal and kinematic gait variables are influenced by the application of a cuff weight during aquatic walking in people post-stroke. The secondary purpose was to compare the differences in gait responses between the placements of cuff weights on the proximal (knee weight) and distal end (ankle weight) of the shank.

METHODS: Twenty-one participants post-stroke with hemiparesis aged 66.3 ± 11.3 years participated in a cross-sectional comparative study. Participants completed two aquatic walking trials at their self-selected maximum walking speed across an 8-m walkway under each of the three conditions: 1) walking with a knee weight; 2) walking with an ankle weight; and 3) walking with no weight. Cuff weights were worn on the paretic leg of each participant. Gait speed, cadence, step width and joint kinematics of the hip, knee and ankle joints were recorded by a customized three-dimensional underwater motion analysis system.

RESULTS: Mean aquatic walking speeds significantly increased with the use of cuff weights when compared to walking with no weight. Changes in gait variables were found in the non-paretic leg with the addition of weight, while no significant changes were found in the paretic leg.

CONCLUSION: The results suggest that the use of additional weight can be helpful if the goal of gait training is to improve walking speed of people post-stroke during pool floor walking. However, it is interesting to note that changes in gait variables were not found in the paretic limb where favourable responses were expected to occur.

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