Objective: To examine the short-term effects of a newly developed hemiparetic gait training in which patients walk with a prosthesis applied to the nonparetic leg in the flexed knee position. Design: Pre-post nonrandomized controlled trial. Setting: Rehabilitation center and gait laboratory of a university hospital. Participants: Community-dwelling ambulatory volunteers (N=22) with chronic hemiparesis caused by a unilateral stroke. Intervention: Study subjects participated in a gait training program using either a below-knee prosthesis or a treadmill. Treadmill gait training was performed at a speed approximating the maximum gait velocity for each patient. The 3-week program consisted of a 5-minute gait training session 2 to 3 times a day. Main Outcome Measures: The ground reaction forces, stance time, step length and cadence during walking at a comfortable speed, and maximum gait speed, as well as the Berg Balance Score, were estimated before and after each training program. Results: In comparison with changes after the treadmill gait training, analyses of covariance demonstrated a significant increase of the fore-aft ground reaction forces during the paretic propulsion phase and a significant increase in the relative durations of the paretic and nonparetic single stance involved in a gait cycle after the prosthetic gait training (P<.05). Conclusions: Prosthetic gait training would have different effects on a hemiparetic gait than treadmill gait training. The gait-related task inducing the dominant use of the paretic leg to support the body may be useful as a rehabilitative treatment to improve the kinetic abilities in the paretic stance period.
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