Task-specific physical therapy for optimization of gait recovery in acute stroke patients

Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 1993 Jun;74(6):612-20. doi: 10.1016/0003-9993(93)90159-8.


A randomized controlled pilot trial was conducted to estimate the effects of early, intensive, gait-focused physical therapy on ambulatory ability in acute, stroke patients. Twenty-seven patients with middle cerebral artery infarct of thromboembolic origin confirmed by computed axial tomography scan were stratified and randomly assigned to the experimental group, to a control group that received early, intensive and conventional therapy, or to a group receiving routine conventional therapy that started later and was not intense. Assessments at entry, six weeks, and three and six months by independent evaluators permitted comparisons with reference to clinical measures of motor performance, balance, and functional capacity, and laboratory measures of gait movements. Group results at six weeks demonstrated that gait velocity was similar in the two conventional groups thereby eliminating the timing of the interventions as an important factor. At that point, gait velocity was faster in the experimental group. The difference translated into a moderate effect size of 0.58. The time dedicated to gait training but not to total therapy time was correlated (rs = 0.63) to gait velocity. This effect disappeared at three and six months after stroke. These pilot results justify planning a large trial to test the effectiveness of a therapeutic protocol that focuses on early and intense gait therapy in an effort to facilitate early ambulation following stroke.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cerebrovascular Disorders / rehabilitation*
  • Female
  • Gait*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Physical Therapy Modalities*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Single-Blind Method
  • Task Performance and Analysis
  • Treatment Outcome