A treadmill and overground walking program improves walking in persons residing in the community after stroke: a placebo-controlled, randomized trial

Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2003 Oct;84(10):1486-91. doi: 10.1016/s0003-9993(03)00349-6.


Objective: To evaluate the effectiveness of a treadmill and overground walking program in reducing the disability and handicap associated with poor walking performance after stroke.

Design: Randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial with a 3-month follow-up.

Setting: General community.

Participants: A volunteer sample of 29 ambulatory individuals (less 2 dropouts) who were living in the community after having suffered a stroke more than 6 months previously.

Interventions: The experimental group participated in a 30-minute treadmill and overground walking program, 3 times a week for 4 weeks. The control group received a placebo consisting of a low-intensity, home exercise program and regular telephone contact.

Main outcome measures: Walking speed (over 10 m), walking capacity (distance over 6 min), and handicap (stroke-adapted 30-item version of the Sickness Impact Profile) measured by a blinded assessor.

Results: The 4-week treadmill and overground walking program significantly increased walking speed (P=.02) and walking capacity (P<.001), but did not decrease handicap (P=.85) compared with the placebo program. These gains were largely maintained 3 months after the cessation of training (P</=.05).

Conclusions: The treadmill and overground walking program was effective in improving walking in persons residing in the community after stroke. This suggests that the routine provision of accessible, long-term, community-based walking programs would be beneficial in reducing disability after stroke.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Community Health Services
  • Disability Evaluation
  • Disabled Persons / rehabilitation*
  • Exercise Test / methods
  • Exercise Therapy / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Paresis / etiology
  • Paresis / physiopathology
  • Paresis / rehabilitation*
  • Patient Compliance
  • Placebo Effect
  • Stroke / complications
  • Stroke Rehabilitation*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Walking / physiology*