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      Classification of walking handicap in the stroke population.

      Stroke; a Journal of Cerebral Circulation
      Activities of Daily Living, Cerebrovascular Disorders, physiopathology, rehabilitation, Disabled Persons, classification, Female, Gait, Humans, Knee Joint, Locomotion, Male, Middle Aged, Motor Activity, Proprioception, Walking

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          Abstract

          The limited walking ability that follows a stroke restricts the patient's independent mobility about the home and community, a significant social handicap. To improve the in-hospital prediction of functional outcome, the relationships between impairment, disability, and handicap were assessed with clinical measures in 147 stroke patients. The patients' level of functional walking ability at home and in the community was assigned by expert clinicians to one of the six categories of a modified Hoffer Functional Ambulation scale at least 3 months after discharge. A 19-item questionnaire was further used to assess current customary mobility of the subjects. Functional muscle strength and proprioception were tested, and walking velocity was measured. The significant indicators of impairment, upright motor control knee flexion and extension strength, differentiated household from community ambulators. The addition of velocity improved the functional prediction. Proprioception was clinically normal in all walkers. The validity of the criteria for the six levels of walking handicap was confirmed statistically. Stepwise discriminant analysis reduced the ambulation activities on the questionnaire from 19 to 7. Redefinition of the criteria for patient classification using the coefficients and constants of the seven critical functions improved the prediction of patient walking ability to 84%. The results of this study offer a quantitative method of relating the social disadvantage of stroke patients to the impairment and disability sustained. The measurement of therapeutic outcome in relation to the social advantage for the patient would allow more efficient standardization of treatment and services.

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