Background Paresis in stroke is largely a result of damage to descending corticospinal and corticobulbar pathways. Recovery of paresis predominantly reflects the impact on the neural consequences of this white matter lesion by reactive neuroplasticity (mechanisms involved in spontaneous recovery) and experience-dependent neuroplasticity, driven by therapy and daily experience. However, both theoretical considerations and empirical data suggest that type of stroke (large vessel distribution/lacunar infarction, hemorrhage), locus and extent of infarction (basal ganglia, right-hemisphere cerebral cortex), and the presence of leukoaraiosis or prior stroke might influence long-term recovery of walking ability. In this secondary analysis based on the 408 participants in the Locomotor Experience Applied Post-Stroke (LEAPS) study database, we seek to address these possibilities. Methods Lesion type, locus, and extent were characterized by the 2 neurologists in the LEAPS trial on the basis of clinical computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging scans. A series of regression models was used to test our hypotheses regarding the effects of lesion type, locus, extent, and laterality on 2- to 12-month change in gait speed, controlling for baseline gait speed, age, and Berg Balance Scale score. Results Gait speed change at 1 year was significantly reduced in participants with basal ganglia involvement and prior stroke. There was a trend toward reduction of gait speed change in participants with lacunar infarctions. The presence of right-hemisphere cortical involvement had no significant impact on outcome. Conclusions Type, locus, and extent of lesion, and the loss of substrate for neuroplastic effect as a result of prior stroke may affect long-term outcome of rehabilitation of hemiparetic gait.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00243919.
Keywords: gait; hemiparesis; lesion locus; rehabilitation; stroke.
© The Author(s) 2015.