Percent-predicted 6-minute walk distance in duchenne muscular dystrophy to account for maturational influences

PLoS Curr. 2012 Jan 25;4:RRN1297. doi: 10.1371/currents.RRN1297.


We recently described a modified version of the 6-minute walk test (6MWT) for Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) based partly on the American Thoracic Society (ATS) guidelines. This measure has shown reliability, validity and utility as a primary outcome measure in DMD clinical trials. Because loss of muscle function in DMD occurs against the background of normal childhood growth and development, younger children with DMD can show increase in distance walked during 6MWT over ~1 year despite progressive muscular impairment. In this study, we compare 6-minute walk distance (6MWD) data from DMD boys (n=17) and typically developing control subjects (n=22) to existing normative data from age- and sex-matched children and adolescents. An age- and height-based equation fitted to normative data by Geiger and colleagues was used to convert 6MWD to a percent-predicted (%-predicted) value in boys with DMD. Analysis of %-predicted 6MWD data represents a method to account for normal growth and development, and shows that gains in function at early ages represents stable rather than improving abilities in boys with DMD. Boys with DMD from 4-7 years of age maintain a stable 6MWD approximately 80% of that of typically developing peers, with the deficit progressing at a variable rate thereafter.