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Immediate effects of therapeutic facilitation on the gait of hemiparetic patients as compared with walking with and without a cane.

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Klinik Berlin, Department of Neurological Rehabilitation, Free University, Germany.



Although the neurodevelopmental technique (Bobath) is the most widely used approach in the gait rehabilitation of hemiparetic subjects in Europe, there is little neurophysiological evidence for its presumed effects on gait symmetry and facilitation of paretic muscles during the therapeutic intervention. The study, therefore, investigated the immediate effects of gait entrainment by a physical therapist on the gait of hemiparetic subjects.


Cycle parameters, gait symmetry, hip joint movement and the electromyographic activity of several lower limb muscles were assessed in 22 patients during a classic intervention by five Bobath therapists and while walking with and without a cane.


Multivariate statistics revealed that, while being assisted by the therapist, patients walked faster (P = 0.022), with a longer relative stance period of the affected leg (P = 0.005), a higher symmetry (P = 0.002), larger hip extension (P = 0.001) and more activation (P = 0.026) of the Mm. triceps surae, vastus lateralis, biceps femoris and gluteus medius as compared to walking with and without a cane. Extensor spasticity of the plantar-flexor tended to increase (n.s.). In five subjects, no after-effect could be documented 1 h after a gait training of 30 min.


The study confirmed a more balanced walking pattern in conjunction with facilitation of various weight bearing muscles during the therapeutic intervention. A prolonged single stance period of the affected leg, an unobstructed hip movement, enhanced weight acceptance and a faster gait seemed to be responsible for the observed immediate effects of the therapeutic intervention.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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