The Relationship between Antigravity Treadmill Therapy Settings and Gait Cycle Parameters

Author(s): Miloslav Kubí?ek and Tomáš Bro?ek

Background: The effective gait restoration due to antigravity treadmill exercise has been demonstrated in patients with locomotor or nervous system disorders. The element of unweighting, its effect on the parameters of the gait cycle and possible deviation from overground walking, despite all the clinical evidence, remains questionable.

Methods: A retrospective analysis of 405 therapy records of patients recovering after lower limb surgery focused on the dependence between body-weight supported treadmill settings (speed, unweighting) and gait cycle parameters (cadence, stance time, step time, swing time, step length and stride length) together with their symmetry indexes. The relationship between therapy settings and respective gait parameters and their symmetry indexes has been evaluated by Pearson correlation coefficient.

Results: While a significant relationship between speed and all analyzed gait parameters, except of swing time of unaffected limb, has been found, no significant impact of unweighting has been proven on any of the gait parameters. The symmetry index turned out to be a suitable tool for monitoring the state of recovery, as no dependence on speed or unweighting settings was proven.

Conclusion: The results of this study show that walking on an antigravity treadmill, similarly to overground walking, has no negative effect on walking parameters. In addition, the unweighting element enables performing the same movement with a lower load on the lower extremities and thus might be more suitable for gait recovery after surgery or injury of the locomotor system.

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