Effects of dynamic stepping training on nonlocomotor tasks in individuals poststroke

Don D. Straube, Carey L. Holleran, Catherine R. Kinnaird, Abigail L. Leddy, Patrick W. Hennessy, T. George Hornby

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Background. During the physical rehabilitation of individuals poststroke, therapists are challenged to provide sufficient amounts of task-specific practice in order to maximize outcomes of multiple functional skills within limited visits. Basic and applied studies have suggested that training of one motor task may affect performance of biomechanically separate tasks that utilize overlapping neural circuits. However, few studies have explicitly investigated the impact of training one functional task on separate, nonpracticed tasks. Objective. The purpose of this preliminary study was to investigate the potential gains in specific nonlocomotor assessments in individuals poststroke following only stepping training of variable, challenging tasks at high aerobic intensities. Methods. Individuals with locomotor deficits following subacute and chronic stroke (n=22) completed a locomotor training paradigm using a repeated-measures design. Practice of multiple stepping tasks was provided in variable environments or contexts at high aerobic intensities for >40 sessions over 10 weeks. The primary outcome was timed Five-Times Sit-to-Stand Test (5XSTS) performance, with secondary measures of sit-to-stand kinematics and kinetics, clinical assessment of balance, and isometric lower limb strength. Results. Participants improved their timed 5XSTS performance following stepping training, with changes in selected biomechanical measures. Statistical and clinically meaningful improvements in balance were observed, with more modest changes in paretic leg strength. Conclusions. The present data suggest that significant gains in selected nonlocomotor tasks can be achieved with high-intensity, variable stepping training. Improvements in nonpracticed tasks may minimize the need to practice multiple tasks within and across treatment sessions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)921-933
Number of pages13
JournalPhysical therapy
Issue number7
StatePublished - 2014


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