A decision making algorithm for rehabilitation after stroke: A guide to choose an appropriate and safe treadmill training

Fabio Vanoglio, Adriana Olivares, Gian Pietro Bonometti, Silvia Damiani, Marta Gaiani, Laura Comini, Alberto Luisa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: Walking independently after a stroke can be difficult or impossible, and walking reeducation is vital. But the approach used is often arbitrary, relying on the devices available and subjective evaluations by the doctor/physiotherapist. Objective decision making tools could be useful.

OBJECTIVES: To develop a decision making algorithm able to select for post-stroke patients, based on their motor skills, an appropriate mode of treadmill training (TT), including type of physiotherapist support/supervision required and safety conditions necessary.

METHODS: We retrospectively analyzed data from 97 post-stroke inpatients admitted to a NeuroRehabilitation unit. Patients attended TT with body weight support (BWSTT group) or without support (FreeTT group), depending on clinical judgment. Patients' sociodemographic and clinical characteristics, including the Cumulative Illness Rating Scale (CIRS) plus measures of walking ability (Functional Ambulation Classification [FAC], total Functional Independence Measure [FIM] and Tinetti Performance-Oriented Mobility Assessment [Tinetti]) and fall risk profile (Morse and Stratify) were retrieved from institutional database.

RESULTS: No significant differences emerged between the two groups regarding sociodemographic and clinical characteristics. Regarding walking ability, FAC, total FIM and its Motor component and the Tinetti scale differed significantly between groups (for all, p < 0.001). FAC and Tinetti scores were used to elaborate a decision making algorithm classifying patients into 4 risk/safety (RS) classes. As expected, a strong association (Pearson chi-squared, p < 0.0001) was found between RS classes and the initial BWSTT/FreeTT classification.

CONCLUSION: This decision making algorithm provides an objective tool to direct post-stroke patients, on admission to the rehabilitation facility, to the most appropriate form of TT.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)75-85
Number of pages11
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2021


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