Evaluation of gait symmetry after stroke: A comparison of current methods and recommendations for standardization
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Symmetry is a gait characteristic that is increasingly measured and reported, particularly in the stroke patient population. However, there is no accepted standard for assessing symmetry making it difficult to compare across studies and establish criteria to guide clinical decision making. This study compares the most common expressions of spatiotemporal gait symmetry to describe post-stroke gait and makes recommendations regarding the most suitable measure for standardization. The following symmetry equations were compared: symmetry ratio, symmetry index, gait asymmetry and symmetry angle using step length, swing time, stance time, double support time and an intra-limb ratio of swing: stance time. Comparisons were made within a group of 161 community-dwelling, ambulatory individuals with stroke and 81 healthy adults as a reference group. Our analysis supports the recommendations of the symmetry ratio as the equation for standardization and step length, swing time and stance time as the gait parameters to be used in the equation. Future work should focus on establishing the intra-individual variability of these measures and linking them to mechanisms of gait dysfunction.
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