Effect of duration of upper- and lower-extremity rehabilitation sessions and walking speed on recovery of interlimb coordination in hemiplegic gait

Gert Kwakkel, Robert C. Wagenaar

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Background and Purpose. The effects of different durations of rehabilitation sessions for the upper extremities (UEs) and lower extremities (LEs) on the recovery of interlimb coordination in hemiplegic gait in patients who have had a stroke were investigated. Subjects and Methods. Fifty-three subjects who had strokes involving their middle cerebral arteries were assigned to rehabilitation programs with (1) an emphasis on the LEs, (2) an emphasis on the paretic UE, or (3) a condition in which the paretic arm (UE) and leg (LE) were immobilized with an inflatable pressure splint (control treatment). The 3 treatment regimens were applied for 30 minutes, 5 days a week, during the first 20 weeks after onset of stroke. All subjects also participated in a rehabilitation program 5 days a week that consisted of 15 minutes of UE exercises and 15 minutes of LE exercises in addition to a weekly 1 1/2-hour session of training in activities of daily living. A repeated-measures design was used. Differences among the 3 treatment regimens were evaluated in terms of comfortable and maximal walking speeds. In addition, mean continuous relative phase (CRP) between paretic arm and 1eg (PAL) movements and nonparetic arm and leg (NAL) movements and standard deviations of CRP of both limb pairs as a measurement of stability (variability) were evaluated. Results. Comfortable walking speed improved in the group that received interventions involving the LEs compared with the group that received interventions involving the UEs and the group that received the control treatment. No differences among the 3 treatment conditions were found for the mean CRP of NAL and PAL as well as the standard deviation of CRP of both limb pairs. Discussion and Conclusion. With the exception of an improved comfortable walking speed as a result of a longer duration of rehabilitation sessions, no differential effects of duration of rehabilitation sessions for the LEs and UEs on the variable we measured related to hemiplegic gait were found. Increasing walking speed, however, resulted in a larger mean CRP for both limb pairs, with increased stability and asymmetry of walking, indicating that walking speed influences interlimb coordination in hemiplegic gait.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)432-448
Number of pages17
JournalPhysical therapy
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 6 May 2002


  • Cerebrovascular disorders
  • Dynamic Pattern Theory
  • Gait
  • Hemiplegia
  • Physical therapy
  • Walking speed

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