Purpose: This study examined the association between impaired physical function and participation in community ambulation following stroke. We hypothesised that participation would be significantly less following stroke, and that physical impairments would be associated with participation.
Method: Using a case-control design 30 survivors of stroke aged 45 and older and 30 controls provided health status information and a self-report of participation in community ambulation (number of trips and walking-related activities (WRA) reported prospectively over a 12-day period). The association of physical impairments (strength, range of motion, sensation, muscle tone, vision, and activity limitations (gait speed and performance on complex walking tasks)) with level of participation was analysed using negative binomial regression and goodness of fit.
Results: Participants included 30 individuals with and 30 without stroke, average age 68 years, majority were Caucasian women. Average time since stroke was 40 months. Participation in survivors of stroke was characterised by fewer trips and WRA and lower satisfaction (p < 0.001). Usual gait speed, balance, muscle strength and muscle length were impaired (p < 0.001) in stroke vs. controls, and associated with number of trips and WRA (p < 0.05). However, these factors explained less than very little of the variance in participation.
Conclusions: While individual factors were associated with level of participation, results failed to accurately predict participation in community ambulation following stroke. Other factors, such as depression, cognition and self-efficacy may be stronger determinants of participation.