Background: There are relatively few reports describing gait patterns in multiple sclerosis (MS) and most are confined to the analysis of temporal distance parameters with some assessment of joint range of motion. The aim of this study was to perform a biomechanical characterisation of gait patterns among people with MS across a wide range of severity of ambulatory impairment.
Methods: Sixteen patients with MS were recruited for this study. Initially, the spasticity of lower limb muscle groups was measured and ambulatory ability was graded. Patients were then placed in two groups based on the level of severity of ambulatory ability. Kinematic, kinetic and EMG gait data from both MS groups were then compared to a control group of 10 healthy subjects.
Results: Patients with MS in both groups were found to walk with reduced gait speed, reduced maximum hip and knee extension, ankle plantarflexion angle and propulsive force compared to the control group. In general, the same gait impairments were found in both MS groups compared to the control group, and were greater for the more severely affected MS patient group.
Interpretation: This study highlights typical gait patterns of people with MS and provides an indication of common pathways in the degeneration of ambulatory ability as a consequence of disease progression. This information should enable improved clinical treatment of ambulation, as well as the prescription, or even design, of appropriate assistive devices.