Conventional physiotherapy and treadmill re-training for higher, level gait disorders in cerebrovascular disease

Conventional physiotherapy and treadmill re-training for higher, level gait disorders in cerebrovascular disease – Statistical Data Included

Richard Liston

Objectives: to compare the therapeutic effects of two approaches to gait re-training – a schedule of conventional physiotherapy and treadmill re-training – in patients with higher-level gait disorders associated with cerebral multi-infarct states. Design: single-blind crossover study involving a 4-week baseline period, 4 weeks of treadmill re-training and 4 weeks of conventional physiotherapy. Setting: a large teaching hospital. Subjects: patients with cerebral multi-infarct states who met the criteria for higher-level gait disorders. Computed tomographic brain scans showed at least one large vessel infarct, basal ganglia and white matter lacunes or extensive leukoaraiosis. Interventions: a schedule of treadmill re-training and a specific schedule of physiotherapy containing 31 interventions in three treatment modules: (i) for gait ignition failure and turning; (ii) to improve postural alignment and enhance balance reactions; and (iii) for other components of cerebral multi-infarct state disordered gait. Main outcome measures: spatial and temporal gait measures and activity of daily living assessments. Results: we recruited 18 patients, mean (SD) age 79.1 (6.8) years. Patients walked an average of 7.9 (5.5) km on the treadmill and had an average of 6.7 (3.2) h of physiotherapy. There were clinically moderate but highly statistically significant (P < 0.001) improvements in the following indices: time taken to complete the sit-to-stand test; time taken to walk 10 m; number of steps over 10 m; walking velocity; fight and left step lengths; and time taken to complete the 'S' test. There were no differences in the results obtained in each limb of the study. Conclusion: there is no difference between the effects of conventional physiotherapy and treadmill re-training on the gait of patients with higher-level gait disorders associated with cerebral multi-infarct states. However, the improvements seen during the treatment period suggest that there is scope to improve the gait of this group of frail, elderly patients. Keywords: gait re-training, multi-infarct gait disorder, physiotherapy, treadmill

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