Comparison of 6-minute walk test performance between male Active Duty soldiers and servicemembers with and without traumatic lower-limb loss

J Rehabil Res Dev. 2013;50(7):931-40. doi: 10.1682/JRRD.2012.05.0098.


The rehabilitation of U.S. military servicemembers (SMs) who have sustained a traumatic loss of one or both lower limbs requires outcome measures that can assess their physical capabilities in comparison with their uninjured colleagues. Describing reference ranges for the 6-minute walk test (6MWT) in both populations will help clinicians develop appropriate goals for rehabilitation and document progress toward those goals. A convenience sample of 118 male U.S. SMs with and 97 without traumatic lower-limb loss participated in this study. All participants completed a 6MWT, and comparisons were made between SMs with and without limb loss and among the levels of limb loss. The SMs without lower-limb loss performed significantly better than all SMs with lower-limb loss. The SMs with transtibial limb loss performed significantly better than those with all other levels of limb loss. Statistically significant and clinically relevant differences were also noted between the other levels of limb loss. No differences were found between different prosthetic components. Reference ranges were established for U.S. SMs with and without various levels of limb loss, and the 6MWT was able to identify functional differences between groups.

Keywords: 6-minute walk test; U.S. servicemembers; amputation; amputee; endurance measure; functional testing; limb loss; performance measure; rehabilitation; walk test.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Amputation, Traumatic / physiopathology*
  • Amputation, Traumatic / rehabilitation
  • Artificial Limbs
  • Body Size*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Disability Evaluation
  • Exercise Test
  • Femur / injuries
  • Humans
  • Leg
  • Male
  • Military Personnel*
  • Prosthesis Design
  • Reference Values
  • Tibia / injuries
  • United States
  • Walking / physiology*
  • Young Adult