Varied Overground Walking Training Versus Body-Weight-Supported Treadmill Training in Adults Within 1 Year of Stroke
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BACKGROUND: Although task-related walking training has been recommended after stroke, the theoretical basis, content, and impact of interventions vary across the literature. There is a need for a comparison of different approaches to task-related walking training after stroke. OBJECTIVE: To compare the impact of a motor-learning-science-based overground walking training program with body-weight-supported treadmill training (BWSTT) in ambulatory, community-dwelling adults within 1 year of stroke onset. METHODS: In this rater-blinded, 1:1 parallel, randomized controlled trial, participants were stratified by baseline gait speed. Participants assigned to the Motor Learning Walking Program (MLWP) practiced various overground walking tasks under the supervision of 1 physiotherapist. Cognitive effort was encouraged through random practice and limited provision of feedback and guidance. The BWSTT program emphasized repetition of the normal gait cycle while supported on a treadmill and assisted by 1 to 3 therapy staff. The primary outcome was comfortable gait speed at postintervention assessment (T2). RESULTS: In total, 71 individuals (mean age = 67.3; standard deviation = 11.6 years) with stroke (mean onset = 20.9 [14.1] weeks) were randomized (MLWP, n = 35; BWSTT, n = 36). There was no significant between-group difference in gait speed at T2 (0.002 m/s; 95% confidence interval [CI] = -0.11, 0.12; P > .05). The MLWP group improved by 0.14 m/s (95% CI = 0.09, 0.19), and the BWSTT group improved by 0.14 m/s (95% CI = 0.08, 0.20). CONCLUSIONS: In this sample of community-dwelling adults within 1 year of stroke, a 15-session program of varied overground walking-focused training was not superior to a BWSTT program of equal frequency, duration, and in-session step activity.
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