Immediate Effects of Cane Use on Gait Symmetry in Individuals with Subacute Stroke
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PURPOSE: In stroke rehabilitation, there is a lack of consensus regarding the effects of cane use on gait symmetry. This study aimed to evaluate the immediate effects on gait symmetry of ambulating with a standard cane and a quad cane among individuals with subacute stroke. METHOD: A within-subject experimental design was used to evaluate symmetry in in-patients with subacute stroke during ambulation on a pressure-sensitive walkway for three task conditions: with no cane, with standard single-point cane, and with quad cane. RESULTS: Fourteen patients were classified as symmetric (n = 5) or asymmetric (n = 9) based on their gait symmetry while walking without an aid. Overall, use of a standard cane during ambulation significantly improved symmetry in asymmetric patients (p = 0.028). In contrast, the use of a quad cane did not improve symmetry (p = 0.36). There was no effect on symmetry in symmetric patients with use of either a standard cane (p = 0.88) or a quad cane (p = 0.32). CONCLUSIONS: These results indicate that the immediate effect of a standard cane is to improve symmetry in patients with subacute stroke who have asymmetric gait. Future studies are required to determine the long-term effects of canes on gait symmetry in this population.
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