The Locomotor Experience Applied Post Stroke rehabilitation trial found equivalent walking outcomes for body weight-supported treadmill plus overground walking practice versus home-based exercise that did not emphasize walking. From this large database, we examined several clinically important questions that provide insights into recovery of walking that may affect future trial designs. Using logistic regression analyses, we examined predictors of response based on a variety of walking speed-related outcomes and measures that captured disability, physical impairment, and quality of life. The most robust predictor was being closer at baseline to the primary outcome measure, which was the functional walking speed thresholds of 0.4 m/s (household walking) and 0.8 m/s (community walking). Regardless of baseline walking speed, a younger age and higher Berg Balance Scale score were relative predictors of responding, whether operationally defined by transitioning beyond each speed boundary or by a continuous change or a greater than median increase in walking speed. Of note, the cutoff values of 0.4 and 0.8 m/s had no particular significance compared with other walking speed changes despite their general use as descriptors of functional levels of walking. No evidence was found for any difference in predictors based on treatment group.
Keywords: LEAPS; community ambulation; exercise; functional walking level; gait speed; outcome measures; physical therapy; quality of life; stroke rehabilitation; walking.