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Gait Posture. 2011 Jan;33(1):140-2. doi: 10.1016/j.gaitpost.2010.09.016. Epub 2010 Oct 16.

Speed- and cane-related alterations in gait parameters in individuals with multiple sclerosis.

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West Haven Veterans Affairs Medical Center, West Haven, CT, USA.


Previous literature reporting gait parameters in the MS population has largely focused on preferred walking speed without the use of an assistive device. However, these data may not fully represent daily activity, as individuals with MS vary their speed or use a cane when walking. In this exploratory study, 11 MS participants and 13 controls walked at both maximal and preferred speed for a distance of 25-feet. Participants with MS that used a cane daily (n=6) were asked to complete additional trials with their cane. When walking unassisted at both speeds, MS participants displayed significantly reduced velocity, cadence, stride length, step length ratio, single support and swing time, as well as increased double support and stance time compared to controls. Cane use resulted in significantly higher velocities when walking at maximal speeds, and showed significantly improved variability, gait asymmetry, and bilateral coordination at preferred walking speed. In conclusion, the use of a cane may significantly improve gait for individuals with MS. Furthermore, gait parameters should be measured at both maximal and preferred speeds, with and without a cane, as its use may mask underlying gait impairment.

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