Wish to gauge post-stroke patients’ walking ability and map the best interventions for their rehabilitation and independence? Try a 6-minute walk test.
Researchers from Clarkson University suggest that the use of such a test is the strongest indicator of walking ability for stroke survivors and it can be used to plan the patients’ rehabilitation and independence moving forward.
Clarkson University Associate Professor of Physical Therapy George Fulk and his colleagues conceived this suggestion after creating and analyzing a large database of data they collected from two other large clinical trials.
“One of my main focuses in research and my passion in physical therapy is to better understand how physical therapy interventions help people with stroke to relearn to walk again, so we need to better understand how to measure walking activity,” says Fulk, in a media release from Clarkson University.
“We can’t follow patients around all day, so we measure how they walk in the clinic to try to understand out how they will function in the community and at home. A lot of times clinic and at-home experiences don’t match, though,” he adds.
For example, the release explains, some people perform better in a clinic because it’s a closed safe environment with not as many obstacles to walking. Sometimes, patients could be afraid of falling or they may not have the social support to get out. Then again, some people may not seem to be as likely to succeed but they just do it.
Using step activity monitors turned out to be a good way to observe how much and how well stroke survivors were walking. Among the factors they measured, the team found that walking endurance with the 6-minute walk test was the strongest individual predictor of community walking activity.
Fulk believes, per the release, that a stroke survivor’s walking endurance, motor function, and balance are essential for walking activity after a stroke, so rehabilitation interventions should focus on these areas to improve a stroke survivor’s ability to walk once they leave the hospital or clinic.
“The more we can learn, the more we can help them have a better recovery,” Fulk says.
Their study was published recently in Stroke.
[Source(s): Clarkson University, Science Daily]