Objective: This study was performed to determine if ambulatory function is governed by motor impairment of limbs or balance ability in subjects with hemiplegia caused by stroke.
Design: Seven patients who walked with physical assistance (FIM 4) after stroke and 13 who walked independently with assistive devices (FIM 6) were compared with 13 healthy subjects. Motor impairment of limbs was evaluated with the Fugl-Meyer Assessment. The Berg Balance Scale and limit of stability test of the Smart Balance Master were used to evaluate balance ability.
Results: The FIM 6 group and the controls were best differentiated by motor impairment of the paretic limbs and limit of stability in the backward direction. Motor impairment of the upper limb and limit of stability in direction toward the paretic side separated the FIM 4 from the FIM 6 group. Upper limb motor impairment and the Berg Balance Scale consistently separated the three subject groups.
Conclusions: Motor impairment in the paretic upper limb and balance dysfunction should be addressed in treatments working toward independent ambulation.