Effects of vestibular rehabilitation on gait performance in poststroke patients: a pilot randomized controlled trial

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Abstract

The effects of vestibular rehabilitation on poststroke patients are unknown. This study aimed to investigate whether or not vestibular rehabilitation would improve both the vestibulo–ocular reflex and gait performance of patients with poststroke hemiparesis. Twenty-eight patients with stroke were assigned randomly to either an experimental group (N=14) or a control group (N=14). The experimental group performed the conventional physical therapy for 40 min and vestibular rehabilitation for 20 min, as a 60 min session, during the first 3 weeks and then completed only the conventional intervention for 60 min for the following 3 weeks. The control group performed only the 60 min conventional physical therapy for 6 weeks. Both groups were measured using the gaze stabilization test, the 10 m walking test, the timed up and go test, and the dynamic gait index. Patients were assessed at baseline, and at 3 and 6 weeks. Although the control group showed no significant difference in any outcome measures, the experimental group showed an improvement in gaze stabilization test scoring, which increased significantly after 3 weeks compared with the baseline (P=0.030). The dynamic gait index was also significantly increased after 3 and 6 weeks compared with the baseline (P=0.049 and 0.024, respectively). This study indicated that vestibular rehabilitation might improve poststroke patients’ vestibulo–ocular reflex. Moreover, patients might show improved gait performance at least up to 3 weeks after the vestibular intervention by the sensory reweight to coordinate vestibular input.

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