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What it measures:

The Six-Minute Walk Test (6MWT) is used to measure a patient’s functional capacity by recording the distance ambulated during a 6 min duration. This can be used to aid in the analysis of cardiopulmonary fitness, measure gait speed, reflect on participants’ activities of daily living, and help to measure mobility). (1)

Target Population:

This summary contains information on use of the 6MWT in patients or clients with a lower extremity joint replacement of the knee or hip.

APTA also has test summaries for the 6MWT applied to other populations at the following links:

Clinical Insights

The 6MWT has a variety of variables that can affect the distance completed such as BMI, stride length, comorbidities, motivation, age, and gait deviations. Due to these uncontrollable variables, it is important for the test administer to observe the patient’s gait and note any deviations present. Patients with a lower extremity joint replacement could alter their gait by incorporating a hip hike technique, circumduction, or a multitude of other gait deviations. These deviations should be taken into account when using this test with patients who had a lower extremity joint replacement. This test is most appropriate for patients with joint replacements only, if compared to a norm value or used as a pretest and posttest distance measure.

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