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Maximum walking speeds obtained using treadmill and overground robot system in persons with post-stroke hemiplegia

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      Previous studies demonstrated that stroke survivors have a limited capacity to increase their walking speeds beyond their self-selected maximum walking speed (SMWS). The purpose of this study was to determine the capacity of stroke survivors to reach faster speeds than their SMWS while walking on a treadmill belt or while being pushed by a robotic system (i.e. “push mode”).


      Eighteen chronic stroke survivors with hemiplegia were involved in the study. We calculated their self-selected comfortable walking speed (SCWS) and SMWS overground using a 5-meter walk test (5-MWT). Then, they were exposed to walking at increased speeds, on a treadmill and while in “push mode” in an overground robotic device, the KineAssist, until they were tested at a speed that they could not sustain without losing balance. We recorded the time and number of steps during each trial and calculated gait speed, average cadence and average step length.


      Maximum walking speed in the “push mode” was 13% higher than the maximum walking speed on the treadmill and both were higher (“push mode”: 61%; treadmill: 40%) than the maximum walking speed overground. Subjects achieved these faster speeds by initially increasing both step length and cadence and, once individuals stopped increasing their step length, by only increasing cadence.


      With post-stroke hemiplegia, individuals are able to walk at faster speeds than their SMWS overground, when provided with a safe environment that provides external forces that requires them to attempt dynamic stability maintenance at higher gait speeds. Therefore, this study suggests the possibility that, given the appropriate conditions, people post-stroke can be trained at higher speeds than previously attempted.

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      Most cited references 59

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      Comfortable and maximum walking speed of adults aged 20-79 years: reference values and determinants.

      to establish reference values for both comfortable and maximum gait speed and to describe the reliability of the gait speed measures and the correlation of selected variables with them. descriptive and cross-sectional. subjects were 230 healthy volunteers. Gait was timed over a 7.62 m expanse of floor. Actual and height normalized speed were determined. Lower extremity muscle strength was measured with a hand-held dynamometer. mean comfortable gait speed ranged from 127.2 cm/s for women in their seventies to 146.2 cm/s for men in their forties. Mean maximum gait speed ranged from 174.9 cm/s for women in their seventies to 253.3 cm/s for men in their twenties. Both gait speed measures were reliable (coefficients > or = 0.903) and correlated significantly with age (r > or = -0.210), height (r > or = 0.220) and the strengths of four measured lower extremity muscle actions (r = 0.190-0.500). The muscle action strengths most strongly correlated with gait speed were nondominant hip abduction (comfortable speed) and knee extension (maximum speed). these normative values should give clinicians a reference against which patient performance can be compared in a variety of settings. Gait speed can be expected to be reduced in individuals of greater age and of lesser height and lower extremity muscle strength.
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        This review article summarizes the current literature regarding the analysis of running gait. It is compared to walking and sprinting. The current state of knowledge is presented as it fits in the context of the history of analysis of movement. The characteristics of the gait cycle and its relationship to potential and kinetic energy interactions are reviewed. The timing of electromyographic activity is provided. Kinematic and kinetic data (including center of pressure measurements, raw force plate data, joint moments, and joint powers) and the impact of changes in velocity on these findings is presented. The status of shoewear literature, alterations in movement strategies, the role of biarticular muscles, and the springlike function of tendons are addressed. This type of information can provide insight into injury mechanisms and training strategies. Copyright 1998 Elsevier Science B.V.
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          Gait differences between individuals with post-stroke hemiparesis and non-disabled controls at matched speeds.

          Treadmill walking was used to assess the consistent gait differences between six individuals with post-stroke hemiparesis and six non-disabled, healthy controls at matched speeds. The hemiparetic subjects walked on the treadmill at their comfortable speeds, while each control walked at the same speed as the hemiparetic subject with whom he or she was matched. Kinematic and insole pressure data were collected from multiple, steady-state gait cycles. A large set of gait differences found between hemiparetic and non-disabled subjects was consistent with impaired swing initiation in the paretic limb (i.e., inadequate propulsion of the leg during pre-swing, increased percentage swing time, and reduced knee flexion at toe-off and mid-swing in the paretic limb) and related compensatory strategies (i.e., pelvic hiking and swing-phase propulsion and circumduction of the paretic limb). Exaggerated positive work associated with raising the trunk during pre-swing and swing of the paretic limb, consistent with pelvic hiking, contributed to increased mechanical energetic cost during walking. A second set of gait differences found was consistent with impaired single limb support on the paretic limb (i.e., shortened support time on the paretic limb) and related compensatory strategies (i.e., exaggerated propulsion of the non-paretic limb during pre-swing to shorten its swing time). Other significant gait differences included asymmetry in step length and increased step width. We conclude that consistent gait differences exist between hemiparetic and non-disabled subjects walking at matched speeds. The differences provide insights, concerning hemiparetic impairment and related compensatory strategies, that are in addition to the observation of slow walking speed.

            Author and article information

            [1 ]Department of Physical Therapy and Human Movement Sciences, Northwestern University, 645 North Michigan Avenue, Suite 1100, Chicago, Illinois 60611, USA
            [2 ]Interdepartamental Neuroscience Program (NUIN), Northwestern University, Chicago, USA
            [3 ]Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Fienberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, Chicago, USA
            J Neuroeng Rehabil
            J Neuroeng Rehabil
            Journal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation
            BioMed Central
            11 October 2012
            : 9
            : 80
            Copyright ©2012 Capo-Lugo et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

            This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.



            stroke, maximum walking speed, kineassist, treadmill, overground walking


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