Objectives: The goal most often stated by persons with stroke is improved walking function. The purpose of this study was to determine the effects of isokinetic strength training on walking performance, muscle strength, and health-related quality of life in survivors of chronic stroke.
Methods: Twenty participants (age, 61.2 +/- 8.4 years) with chronic stroke were randomized into 2 groups. The experimental group undertook maximal concentric isokinetic strength training, whereas the control group received passive range of motion of the paretic lower extremity 3 times a week for 6 weeks. The Kin-Com Isokinetic Dynamometer (Chattanooga Group Inc., TN) was used for both the strengthening and passive range of motion exercises. The Mann-Whitney U test was used to compare the changes in scores (postintervention minus baseline) between the control and experimental groups for a composite lower extremity strength score, walking speed (level-walking and stair-walking) and health-related quality of life measure (36-Item Short Form Health Survey [SF-36]).
Results: Both the experimental and control groups increased their strength and walking speed postintervention; however, there were no differences in the changes in walking speed between the groups. There was a trend (P = .06) toward greater strength improvement in the experimental group compared with the control group. No changes in SF-36 scores were found in either group.
Conclusions: Intervention aimed at increasing strength did not result in improvements in walking. The results of this study stress the importance of controlled clinical trials in determining the effect of specific treatment approaches. Strength training in conjunction with other task-related training may be indicated.