Relationships between gait variability and ambulatory activity post stroke.
BACKGROUND: Fall risk and balance confidence are related to gait variability and ambulatory activity post stroke, yet whether a relationship exists between gait variability and ambulatory activity is unknown. Knowing if gait variability measured under naturalistic conditions is related to ambulatory activity could explain more about the relationship between falls and walking activity post-stroke. OBJECTIVES: To examine relationships between spontaneous, daily ambulatory activity and gait variability during single- and dual-task walking, in low- and high-distraction settings in adults post stroke. METHODS: Sixteen community-dwelling adults post stroke participated in a cross-sectional study. Spatiotemporal gait parameters were recorded during single- and cognitive-motor dual-task walking in low- and high-distraction settings. Coefficient of variation was calculated for stride length and stride duration. Average walking bout duration, maximum walking bout duration, and total number of steps per day were captured using an activity monitor. Correlations between ambulatory activity measures and gait variability were examined. RESULTS: In the high-distraction setting, single-task stride duration variability was negatively related to all three ambulatory activity measures, but the strongest relationship was a negative correlation between dual-task stride duration variability and average walking duration. In the low-distraction setting, single-task stride duration variability was negatively related to maximum walking duration. None of the other variability measures were related to ambulatory activity. CONCLUSIONS: The finding that stride duration variability in a high-distraction environment, with or without an additional cognitive task, is related to ambulatory activity in community-dwelling stroke survivors suggests that assessments incorporating attentional demands of real-world walking may be useful additions to clinical practice.
Zukowski, LA; Feld, JA; Giuliani, CA; Plummer, P
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