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Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2010 Dec;91(12):1920-9. doi: 10.1016/j.apmr.2010.08.009.

Supported treadmill ambulation for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis: a pilot study.

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Carolinas Neuromuscular/ALS-MDA Center, Department of Neurology, Neuroscience and Spine Institute, Charlotte, NC, USA.



To determine the feasibility, tolerability, safety, and exercise treatment-effect size of repetitive rhythmic exercise mediated by supported treadmill ambulation training (STAT) for patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).


Interventional with repeated-measures design.


Multidisciplinary ALS clinic at academic medical center.


Convenience sample of patients with ALS (N=9) who were ambulatory with assistive devices (Sinaki-Mulder stages II-III).


Repetitive rhythmic exercise-STAT (30min total; 5min of exercise intercalated with 5min of rest) performed 3 times a week for 8 weeks.


ALS Functional Rating Scale-Revised (ALSFRS-R), percentage of predicted vital capacity (VC), total lower-extremities manual muscle test (MMT), rate of perceived exertion (RPE), Fatigue Severity Scale (FSS), and maximum voluntary isometric contraction (MVIC) in 10 lower and 10 upper extremities. Gait performance, which included walking distance, speed, steps, and stride length, was evaluated during treadmill and ground 6-minute walk tests (6MWTs) and 25-foot walk test (25FWT).


Feasibility issues decreased screened participants by 4 patients (31%). Nine patients were enrolled, but 6 patients (67%) completed the study and 3 (23% of original cohort; 33% of enrolled cohort) could not complete the exercise intervention because of non-ALS-related medical problems. Tolerability of the intervention measures during the treadmill 6MWT showed improvement in RPE (P≤.05) and FSS score (P≥.05). Safety measures (ALSFRS-R, VC, MMT) showed no decrease and showed statistical improvement in ALSFRS-R score (P≤.05) during the study interval. Exercise treatment-effect size showed variable improvements. Gait speed, distance, and stride length during the treadmill 6MWT improved significantly (P≤.05) after 4 weeks and improvements were maintained after 8 weeks compared with baseline. Walking distance during the ground 6MWT increased significantly after 4 weeks and was maintained after 8 weeks compared with baseline (P≤.05). Walking speed during the 25FWT and lower-extremity MVIC improved, but were not statistically significant.


Repetitive rhythmic exercise-STAT is feasible, tolerated, and safe for patients with ALS. Repetitive rhythmic exercise-STAT treatment-effect size across a number of ALS-related measures was consistent with improved work capacity and gait function in patients with ALS who are dependent on assistive devices for ambulation. Repetitive rhythmic exercise-STAT should be evaluated further in larger studies to determine the stability of this improved function in relation to the rate of progression of the underlying ALS.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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