Indexed on: 25 Dec '10Published on: 25 Dec '10Published in: Gait & Posture
Gait dysfunctions are highly prevalent in individuals post-stroke and affect multiple lower extremity joints. Recent evidence suggests that treadmill walking at faster than self-selected speeds can help improve post-stroke gait impairments. Also, the combination of functional electrical stimulation (FES) and treadmill training has emerged as a promising post-stroke gait rehabilitation intervention. However, the differential effects of combining FES with treadmill walking at the fast versus a slower, self-selected speed have not been compared previously. In this study, we compared the immediate effects on gait while post-stroke individuals walked on a treadmill at their self-selected speed without FES (SS), at the SS speed with FES (SS-FES), at the fastest speed they are capable of attaining (FAST), and at the FAST speed with FES (FAST-FES). During SS-FES and FAST-FES, FES was delivered to paretic ankle plantarflexors during terminal stance and to paretic dorsiflexors during swing phase. Our results showed improvements in peak anterior ground reaction force (AGRF) and trailing limb angle during walking at FAST versus SS. FAST-FES versus SS-FES resulted in greater peak AGRF, trailing limb angle, and swing phase knee flexion. FAST-FES resulted in further increase in peak AGRF compared to FAST. We posit that the enhancement of multiple aspects of post-stroke gait during FAST-FES suggest that FAST-FES may have potential as a post-stroke gait rehabilitation intervention.