Distance-Induced Changes in Walking Speed After Stroke: Relationship to Community Walking Activity


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Abstract

Background and Purpose:Physical inactivity is a major contributing factor to reduced health and quality of life. The total distance walked during the 6-Minute Walk Test is a strong indicator of real-world walking activity after stroke. The purpose of this study was to determine whether measurement of distance-induced changes in walking speed during the 6-Minute Walk Test improves the test's ability to predict community walking activity.Methods:For 40 individuals poststroke, community walking activity (steps/d), the total distance walked during the 6-Minute Walk Test (6MWTtotal), and the difference between the distances walked during the final and first minutes of the test (Δ6MWTmin6–min1) were analyzed using moderated regression. Self-efficacy, assessed using the Activities-specific Balance Confidence scale, was also included in the model.Results:Alone, 6MWTtotal explained 41% of the variance in steps/d. The addition of Δ6MWTmin6–min1 increased explanatory power by 29% (ΔR2 = 0.29, P < 0.001). The final model accounted for 71% of steps/d variance (F4,32 = 19.52, P < 0.001). Examination of a significant 6MWTtotal × Δ6MWTmin6–min1 interaction revealed a positive relationship between 6MWTtotal and steps/d, with individuals whose distances declined from minute 1 to minute 6 by 0.10 m/s or more presenting with substantially fewer steps/d than those whose distances did not decline.Discussion and Conclusions:Coassessment of distance-induced changes in walking speed during the 6-Minute Walk Test and the total distance walked substantially improves the prediction of real-world walking activity after stroke. This study provides new insight into how walking ability after stroke can be characterized to reduce heterogeneity and advance personalized treatments.

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