Gait training with body weight support was more effective than conventional physical therapy for improving the spatial-temporal and kinematic gait parameters among patients with incomplete spinal cord injuries, say authors of an article published online in Spinal Cord.
This single-blind randomized, controlled clinical study enrolled 30 patients with sequelae from traumatic incomplete spinal cord injuries at least 12 months earlier. Participants were able to walk and were classified according to motor function as ASIA (American Spinal Injury Association) impairment scale C or D. Researchers randomly divided participants into 2 groups of 15, group A (weight support) and group B (conventional). After an initial assessment, both groups underwent 30 sessions of gait training. Sessions occurred twice a week, lasted for 30 minutes, and continued for 4 months. A single blinded examiner evaluated the participants by using movement analysis to measure angular and linear kinematic gait parameters. Six patients (3 from group A, 3 from group B) were excluded because they attended fewer than 85% of the training sessions.
There were no statistically significant differences in intra-group comparisons among the spatial-temporal variables in group B. In group A, researchers observed significant differences in the following spatial-temporal variables: increases in velocity; distance; cadence; step length; swing phase and gait cycle duration; in addition to a reduction in stance phase. There also were no significant differences in intra-group comparisons among the angular variables in group B. However, group A achieved significant improvements in maximum hip extension and plantar flexion during stance.