Poor gait performance is influenced with decreased vestibulo-ocular reflex in poststroke patients

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The vestibulo-ocular reflex (VOR) exerts a significant influence on gait performance. Therefore, a decrease in VOR function could worsen gait impairments in patients with poststroke hemiparesis. The effects of decreased VOR function on gait performance could be further exacerbated by aging-related physical weakness and impaired motor function of the hemiparetic lower limb. The aim of our study was to evaluate the possible synergistic effect of aging and impairment in lower extremity function and the VOR on walking ability of poststroke hemiplegic patients. The VOR was evaluated, using the gaze-stabilization test (GST), in 75 patients with a poststroke hemiplegia. Lower extremity function was assessed using the Fugl-Meyer assessment (FMA-LE). Gait performance was evaluated using the 10-m walking test, the timed up-and-go, and the dynamic gait index (DGI). The relationships between gait performance and age, FMA-LE and GST, as well as whether age, FMA-LE, and/or GST were significant predictors of gait performance were evaluated. The 10-m walking test, timed up-and-go and DGI were significantly correlated to the FMA-LE and GST (P<0.05). On stepwise multiple regression analysis, the GST remained a significant predictor of the DGI (P<0.001). The present study indicates that decreased VOR function after stroke contributes to impairments in gait both in simple and in dual-task walking tests.

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