Objective: The aim of this systematic review was to identify literature examining associations between isometric strength and gait velocity following stroke.
Methods: An electronic search was performed using six online databases. Targeted searching of reference lists of included articles and three relevant journals was also performed. Two independent reviewers identified relevant articles, extracted data and assessed the methodological quality of included articles. Inclusion criteria involved studies that assessed univariate correlations between gait velocity and isometric strength of individual lower limb muscle groups in a stroke population.
Results: Twenty-one studies were included for review. The majority of included studies had a relatively small sample size. After accounting for sample size and methodological quality, the knee extensors showed poor-to-moderate correlations with gait velocity while the ankle dorsiflexors showed the strongest association with gait velocity.
Conclusions: Current evidence suggests that the strength of the ankle dorsiflexors has a stronger correlation to gait velocity compared with other lower limb muscle groups. Consequently, a focus on increasing ankle dorsiflexor strength to improve gait velocity following stroke may be beneficial. However, due to limitations of the research identified, further research is needed to determine the associations between lower limb strength and gait velocity following stroke.
Keywords: Gait speed; muscle strength; rehabilitation; review; stroke; walking.