Does the Environment Cause Changes in Hemiparetic Lower Limb Muscle Activity and Gait Velocity During Walking in Stroke Survivors?

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Stroke survivors often face difficulty in community ambulation though they attain steady-state walking in clinical setups. Compliance and unpredictability of the environment may alter the muscle activity and challenge the individual's gait. Successful reintegration into the community requires gait assessment and training in a real-life challenging environment. Little is known about the assessment and training of gait in the community environment under challenging mobility dimensions. Hence, we aimed to study the changes that real-life environmental dimensions have on the activity of selected muscles in hemiparetic lower limb and gait velocity in stroke survivors. Methods: An observational cross-sectional study was conducted on 16 ambulatory stroke survivors to assess the hemiparetic lower limb muscle activity during walking in real-life environmental dimensions. Participants were made to walk in the community on a walkway consisting of even surface, ramp, stairs, uneven terrain and obstacles. They were also made to manoeuvre through traffic and pick a load while walking for a distance in the walkway. Muscle activity of Rectus Femoris, Biceps Femoris, Gastrocnemius Medialis and Tibialis Anterior of the paretic lower limb were continuously recorded while walking using wireless surface electromyography. Gait velocity for the entire walkway and level of perceived difficulty while walking in different dimensions were also measured. Paired t-test was used to compare the percentage Maximum Voluntary Contraction (%MVC) of lower limb muscles between even surface and real-life environment dimensions while walking. One sample t-test was used to compare the gait velocity in real-life dimensions versus gait velocity in even surface measured in an earlier study. Results: There was a significant reduction (p < 0.01) in the activity of all four hemiparetic lower limb muscles while walking under the influence of real-life environmental dimensions compared to even surface. Gait velocity (0.33 ± 0.17 m/s) was significantly lower than that is essential to be a community ambulator. The level of perceived difficulty across all dimensions was reported qualitatively with the highest difficulty reported during stair and obstacle clearance. Conclusion: Real-life environmental dimensions lead to the reduction of paretic lower limb muscle activities and gait velocity during walking in community-dwelling stroke survivors. Stroke survivors perceived more difficulty while walking in real-life environment dimensions particularly while negotiating stairs and obstacles. Significance: Knowledge about the influence of real-life environmental dimensions will help the clinicians to target rehabilitation methods to improve walking adaptability.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105174
JournalJournal of Stroke and Cerebrovascular Diseases
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 10-2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Surgery
  • Rehabilitation
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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