Effectiveness of a rehabilitation dog in fostering gait retraining for adults with a recent stroke: a multiple single-case study

NeuroRehabilitation. 2010;27(2):155-63. doi: 10.3233/NRE-2010-0592.


Introduction: Gait retraining approaches and walking aids currently used for patients with recent stoke present limitations regarding their utilization in clinical and real life settings. A rehabilitation facility implemented an innovative approach using a rehabilitation dog for gait retraining and as a walking aid.

Objective: To explore the effectiveness of rehabilitation dog, both as a gait retraining approach and as a walking aid, to improve walking speed and gait pattern.

Methods: Four participants, post recent stroke with hemiparesis, were recruited in a rehabilitation unit. A multiple single-case ABA design was used. The three-week training period focused on gait retraining using a rehabilitation dog. For each session, walking speed with the rehabilitation dog and the cane was documented. In each phase (ABA), the gait pattern was analyzed.

Results: Mean (SD) age of the participants was 58 (3.2) years old; time since stroke was 88 (61.41) days. For three participants, walking speed was significantly increased after retraining with the dog. The four participants showed improvement of their gait pattern across phases and walked significantly faster with the dog than with the cane.

Conclusion: This pilot study suggests that a rehabilitation dog is an interesting gait retraining approach for a clinical setting and an effective walking aid following stroke.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Canes*
  • Dogs*
  • Female
  • Gait*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Paresis / etiology
  • Paresis / physiopathology
  • Paresis / rehabilitation*
  • Recovery of Function*
  • Stroke / complications
  • Stroke / physiopathology
  • Stroke Rehabilitation*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Walking*