Early body weight-supported overground walking training in patients with stroke in subacute phase compared to conventional physiotherapy: a randomized controlled pilot study

Stefano Brunelli, Marco Iosa, Francesca Romana Fusco, Carmelo Pirri, Claudia Di Giunta, Calogero Foti, Marco Traballesi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Among the new rehabilitation strategies aimed at improving independent walking after stroke, the body weight-support training allows an early and controlled ambulatory training. To date, most available studies are based on treadmill body weight-support (BWS) training and involve patients with chronic stroke sequelae. In contrast, the effects of a BWS training performed on the ground in patients with subacute hemiparesis (stroke within 4 weeks), with significant gait deficiencies, is unknown. The primary aim of this study was to evaluate the efficacy of a rehabilitative program that combines conventional approach with an early overground body weight-support training, in terms of recovery of independent walking focussing on patients with subacute stroke. The secondary aim was to evaluate the impact of body weight-support also on functional mobility, overall disability, and gait endurance. A total of 37 participants were enrolled and randomized to experimental group or control group for the baseline evaluations. In the experimental group, body weight-supported overground walking was added to conventional physiotherapy for 4 weeks. The outcome measurements used were: Functional Ambulation Classification (FAC), Rivermead Mobility Index, Barthel Index, and the 6-minute Walk Test. At the evaluation 1 week after the end of the intervention period, experimental group reached a statistically significant increase of independent walking as detected by FAC (experimental group: 3 vs. control group: 2, P < 0.01). No differences were observed by the other evaluation outcome measures. We conclude that BWS training may be more effective than conventional therapy alone in improving walking autonomy in persons with subacute stroke.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)309-315
Number of pages7
JournalInternational journal of rehabilitation research. Internationale Zeitschrift fur Rehabilitationsforschung. Revue internationale de recherches de readaptation
Volume42
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Rehabilitation

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