Six hours of task-oriented training optimizes walking competency post stroke: a randomized controlled trial in the public health-care system of South Africa

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Objective:To evaluate a minimal dose intervention of six 1-hour sessions of task-oriented circuit gait training including a caregiver over a 12-week period to persons post stroke in the South African public health sector.Design:Stratified, single blinded, randomized controlled trial with three intervention groups.Participants:Persons post stroke (n = 144, mean age 50 years, 72 women), mean 9.5 weeks post stroke.Interventions:Task group (n = 51)—accompanied by a caregiver; task-oriented circuit gait training (to improve strength, balance, and task performance while standing and walking). Strength group (n = 45); strength training of lower extremities while sitting and lying. Control group (n = 48); one 90-minute educational session on stroke management.Measures:The six-minute walk test (6MinWT) was the primary outcome; the secondary outcomes included comfortable and fast gait speeds, Berg Balance Scale (BBS), and Timed Up and Go (TUG). Particpants evaluated at baseline, post intervention (12 weeks), and at follow-up 12 weeks later. Change scores were compared using generalized repeated measures analysis of variance (ANOVA).Results:Task group change scores for all outcomes post intervention and at follow-up were improved compared to the other groups (P-values between 0.000005 and 0.04). The change scores (mean, 1SD) between baseline and follow-up for the Task, Strength, and Control groups, respectively, were as follows: 6MinWT:119.52 m (81.92), 81.05 m (79.53), and 60.99 m (68.38); comfortable speed 0.35 m/s (0.23), 0.24 m/s (0.22), and 0.19 m/s (0.21); BBS: 9.94 (7.72), 6.93 (6.01), and 5.19 (4.80); and TUG: –14.24 seconds (16.86), –6.49 seconds (9.88), and –5.65 seconds (8.10).Conclusion:Results support the efficacy of a minimal dose task-oriented circuit training program with caregiver help to enhance locomotor recovery and walking competency in these persons with stroke.

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