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Body configuration at first stepping-foot contact predicts backward balance recovery capacity in people with chronic stroke

Digna de Kam, Jolanda M B Roelofs, Alexander C H Geurts, Vivian Weerdesteyn
PloS One 2018, 13 (2): e0192961
29470535

OBJECTIVE: To determine the predictive value of leg and trunk inclination angles at stepping-foot contact for the capacity to recover from a backward balance perturbation with a single step in people after stroke.

METHODS: Twenty-four chronic stroke survivors and 21 healthy controls were included in a cross-sectional study. We studied reactive stepping responses by subjecting participants to multidirectional stance perturbations at different intensities on a translating platform. In this paper we focus on backward perturbations. Participants were instructed to recover from the perturbations with maximally one step. A trial was classified as 'success' if balance was restored according to this instruction. We recorded full-body kinematics and computed: 1) body configuration parameters at first stepping-foot contact (leg and trunk inclination angles) and 2) spatiotemporal step parameters (step onset, step length, step duration and step velocity). We identified predictors of balance recovery capacity using a stepwise logistic regression. Perturbation intensity was also included as a predictor.

RESULTS: The model with spatiotemporal parameters (perturbation intensity, step length and step duration) could correctly classify 85% of the trials as success or fail (Nagelkerke R2 = 0.61). In the body configuration model (Nagelkerke R2 = 0.71), perturbation intensity and leg and trunk angles correctly classified the outcome of 86% of the recovery attempts. The goodness of fit was significantly higher for the body configuration model compared to the model with spatiotemporal variables (p<0.01). Participant group and stepping leg (paretic or non-paretic) did not significantly improve the explained variance of the final body configuration model.

CONCLUSIONS: Body configuration at stepping-foot contact is a valid and clinically feasible indicator of backward fall risk in stroke survivors, given its potential to be derived from a single sagittal screenshot.

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