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Neurorehabil Neural Repair. 2008 Nov-Dec;22(6):649-60. doi: 10.1177/15459683080220060201.

Rehabilitation of gait speed after stroke: a critical review of intervention approaches.

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Department of Physical Therapy, Faculty of Social Welfare and Health Sciences, University of Haifa, Mt Carmel, Haifa, Israel.



Walking speed is a cardinal indicator of poststroke gait performance; however, no consensus exists regarding the optimal treatment method(s) for its enhancement. The most widely accepted criterion for establishing the contribution of treatment to walking speed is the gain in speed. The actual speed, however, at the end of the intervention (final speed) may be more important for functional community ambulation. This review examines the contribution of the prevailing methods for gait rehabilitation to final walking speed.


Walking speed information was derived from studies included in meta-analyses, systematic reviews, and clinical practice guidelines. Recent references, not included in the mentioned sources, were incorporated in cases when gait speed was an outcome variable. Final speed was assessed by the reported speed values and by inferring the capacity for functional community walking at the end of the intervention period.


Similar outcomes for final walking speed were found for the different prevailing treatment methods. Treatment gains were likewise comparable and generally insufficient for upgrading patients' functional community walking capacity.


Different treatment methods exist for poststroke gait rehabilitation. Their availability, mode of application, and costs vary, yet outcomes are largely similar. Therefore, choosing an appropriate method may be guided by a pragmatic approach. Simple "low technology" and conventional exercise to date is at least as efficacious as more complex strategies such as treadmill and robotic-based interventions.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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