The researchers investigated if patients post-stroke stabilise their walking pattern during familiarisation and found that 5-min was sufficient to achieve relatively stable walking during BWSTT.
Article by Mona Kristin Aaslund, Jorunn Lægdheim Helbostad, Rolf Moe-Nilssen
Walking on a treadmill with body weight support (BWS) may require familiarisation. Patients post-stroke fatigue easily and the time needed to reach stable walking is important. However, even if body weight supported treadmill training (BWSTT) is commonly used in gait rehabilitation for patients post-stroke, it is not known how much time that is needed before stable walking is reached in this population. The objective of this study therefore, was to investigate if patients post-stroke manage to stabilise walking patterns during a 5-min familiarisation-trial on the treadmill with BWSTT. Thirty-five patients post-stroke walked on a treadmill at preferred speed and with 20 percent BWS during a 5-min familiarisation-period. A body-worn sensor assessed trunk acceleration. Intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC) was used for pairwise comparisons of successive 30 s intervals during familiarisation, and one-way repeated-measures analysis of variance was used to investigate if there were linear trends between intervals. Mean ICCs across all variables stabilised above 0.90 after 3 min. Across intervals, walk ratio, cadence and step length obtained mean ICCs that were high, while interstride trunk regularity and trunk asymmetry obtained lower ICCs. However, except for mediolateral trunk acceleration, there was no linear trend after the first 3 min indicating that differences between intervals during the last 2 min were random. This was the first study investigating familiarisation to BWSTT for patients post-stroke. Findings revealed that most of the familiarisation occurred within the first 3 min of walking, and therefore relatively stable walking could be achieved within a 5-min walking trial on the treadmill with BWS.