Objective: Gait retraining should target the walking skills most needed for independence in the home and community. The main objective of this study was to document the walking tasks most commonly encountered in daily life by able-bodied adults. The study also compared participation in walking tasks between able-bodied adults and persons with incomplete spinal cord injuries.
Participants: Convenience sample of 50 able-bodied adults and 16 ambulatory, community-dwelling persons with incomplete spinal cord injuries.
Methods: A walking survey was developed, and its content validity and concurrent validity confirmed. Participants used the survey to document the frequency with which walking tasks were encountered during a full waking day.
Results: Frequently encountered tasks included walking on smooth and rough surfaces, opening/closing doors and carrying objects. Tasks encountered more than once per day by the majority of able-bodied participants included negotiating obstacles, walking on uneven and sloped surfaces, in crowded environments, narrow spaces, and on steps and stairs. Participants with spinal cord injuries encountered fewer tasks, including many of those frequently encountered by able-bodied participants.
Conclusion: The findings identify the important walking tasks for ambulation in the home and community. These tasks should be included in therapy programs aiming to retrain functional walking.