Spinal Segmental Movement Changes during Treadmill Gait after Stroke

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Malgorzata Syczewska, Tommy Oberg

Most studies on gait disorders have focused on the lower extremities. However, gait is a complex activity involving the whole body, including the spine. The aim of the present paper was to study segmental movements of the spine during gait on the treadmill in stroke patients with mild hemiparetic gait deficits. The spine movement during treadmill gait of fifteen hemiparetic patients (7 left and 8 right sided) was investigated, using an optoelectronic system. Movements of seven spine segments, from C7 to S2, were analyzed. Subjects walked with their normal, self selected speed. All data was normalized to per cent of the gait cycle. The patterns of the spine segment movements were calculated in both the sagittal and frontal planes. Three distinct subgroups were found – the first group with only one full oscillation cycle per gait cycle in the sagittal plane, a second group with two oscillation cycles shifted in phase, and a third group with two distinct oscillations, but with major asymmetry in time and amplitude, with one of the oscillations being much smaller than another one. In the frontal plane, the first and second groups had the spine bent towards the paretic side, but in the third group the spine was stiff with only minor bending towards the non-paretic side. Among patients with mildly impaired gait due to stroke, the spinal motion pattern is considerably altered in comparison to healthy subjects, which likely impairs the biomechanical efficiency of their gait.
Key words
spine, gait, stroke, hemiparesis

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