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. 2018 Dec;40(26):3156-3163.
doi: 10.1080/09638288.2017.1380720. Epub 2017 Oct 17.

Therapists' Cues Influence Lower Limb Muscle Activation and Kinematics During Gait Training in Subacute Stroke


Therapists' Cues Influence Lower Limb Muscle Activation and Kinematics During Gait Training in Subacute Stroke

Michelle Ploughman et al. Disabil Rehabil. .


Purpose: Symmetrical gait is a key goal of rehabilitation post-stroke. Therapists employ techniques such as verbal instruction and haptic cues to increase activation of paretic muscles. We examined whether verbal or tactile cueing altered spatiotemporal gait parameters, kinematics and electromyography (EMG) of lower limb muscles on the more-affected side within a training session.

Materials and methods: Patients (n = 10) were recruited from rehabilitation services (<9 months post-stroke). Tactile (to the hip muscles) or verbal cues were provided on two testing days, 7-10 days apart (randomized order). Gait and angular kinematics were recorded using a Vicon motion capture system and muscle activation using EMG; at baseline (PRE), during the cue, directly afterwards without a cue (POST) and 20 min later without a cue (RETEST).

Results: Both verbal and tactile cueing significantly increased muscle activity in paretic muscles but with no immediate effect on step length asymmetry. Tactile cues, more than verbal, temporarily altered gait speed, cadence and time in double support. Verbal cues caused more robust increases in muscle activation of vastus lateralis at weight acceptance and medial gastrocnemius activity from toe off to midswing.

Conclusions: Within a treatment session, tactile cues more effectively altered cadence and double support time while verbal cues more consistently increased vastus lateralis and medial gastrocnemius activity. The effectiveness of these methods in fostering motor relearning in the longer term is an important area for future research. Implications for Rehabilitation Therapist cueing alters muscle activity on hemiparetic side with no effects on symmetry. Tactile cues, more so than verbal cues, increase cadence and reduce time in double support. Verbal cues are more effective at increasing vastus lateralis and plantarflexor muscle activity.

Keywords: Stroke; cerebrovascular accident; electromyography; facilitation; haptic; hemiplegia; rehabilitation.

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