McCain KJ, Pollo FE, Baum BS, Coleman SC, Baker S, Smith PS. Locomotor treadmill training with partial body-weight support before overground gait in adults with acute stroke: a pilot study. Objective: To investigate the impact of locomotor treadmill training with partial body-weight support (BWS) before the initiation of overground gait for adults less than 6 weeks poststroke. Design: Parallel group, posttest only. Setting: Inpatient rehabilitation center. Participants: Adults after first stroke admitted to an inpatient rehabilitation unit: treadmill group (n=7) and comparison group (n=7). Interventions: Locomotor treadmill training with partial BWS or traditional gait training methods. Main Outcome Measures: Gait kinematics, symmetry, velocity, and endurance at least 6 months postinsult. Results: Data from 3-dimensional gait analysis and 6-minute walk test (6MWT) supported improved gait for adults postacute stroke who practiced gait on a treadmill before walking over ground. Gait analysis showed increased knee flexion during swing and absence of knee hyperextension in stance for the treadmill group. In addition, more normal ankle kinematics at initial contact and terminal stance were observed in the treadmill group. Improved gait symmetry in the treadmill group was confirmed by measures of single support time, hip flexion at initial contact, maximum knee flexion, and maximum knee extension during stance. The treadmill group also walked further and faster in the 6MWT than the comparison group. Conclusions: Application of locomotor treadmill training with partial BWS before overground gait training may be more effective in establishing symmetric and efficient gait in adults postacute stroke than traditional gait training methods in acute rehabilitation.
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