Physical therapists' perceptions and use of standardized assessments of walking ability post-stroke

J Rehabil Med. 2011 May;43(6):543-9. doi: 10.2340/16501977-0820.


Objectives: To determine physical therapists' perceptions and use of standardized assessments of walking ability post-stroke.

Design: Cross-sectional survey.

Methods: A questionnaire was posted to physical therapists in neurological practice registered in Ontario, Canada (n = 1155). Of the 705 responders, 270 treated adults with stroke and completed the questionnaire.

Results: Assessment tools most frequently used with > 6/10 patients were the Chedoke-McMaster Stroke Assessment (61.1%), Functional Independence Measure (45.2%), and gait speed test (32.2%). Only 11.1% consistently used the 6-minute walk test. The tools were used to evaluate (44.6%), monitor change over time (42.9%), form a prognosis (19.4%) or judge readiness for discharge (28.4%). Some therapists (40.1%) were unaware or unsure that valid and reliable measures of walking exist. As many as 80.5% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that clinical practice guidelines should recommend specific measures of walking ability for use post-stroke.

Conclusion: A moderate number of physical therapists consistently use standardized assessment tools to evaluate or monitor change in walking limitation post-stroke. Interventions to improve use must increase awareness, in addition to the perceived relevance and applicability, of recommended assessment tools.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care / methods
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care / standards
  • Physical Therapy Modalities
  • Physical Therapy Specialty
  • Self Report
  • Stroke / physiopathology
  • Stroke Rehabilitation*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Walking* / physiology
  • Workforce