PURPOSE: This study compared two different techniques of treadmill gait training, and evaluated the outcomes on gait and respiratory function in patients with hemiplegic stroke.
METHODS: This was a single-blinded, randomized, controlled, comparative study, enrolling a total of 21 stroke patients in a rehabilitation hospital. Subjects were randomly assigned to either the treadmill walking training group with gradual speed increase (GSI group, n = 10), or treadmill walking training group with random speed changing (RSC group, n = 11). All participants performed 60 min of comprehensive rehabilitation therapy (5 × / week for 6 weeks). In additional, each group received either GSI or RSC treadmill walking training for 20 min (5 × / week for 6 weeks, total 30 sessions). Gait and respiratory function were measured before and after the 6-week training.
RESULTS: Both groups showed significant improvementsin the 10-m walking test, 6-minute walking test, timed up and go test, forced vital capacity (FVC), forced expiratory volume in 1 second, and maximal voluntary ventilation after training (p < .05). The GSI group showed a significantly greater increase in the FVC than the RSC group (+14.8 L vs. +12.5 L, p < .05).
CONCLUSION: Both training methods can be effective for improving the walking and respiratory functions of stroke patients. However, our results indicate that treadmill walking training with gradual speed increase might be a more effective method for improving the respiratory function (FVC) than treadmill walking training with random speed changing.