Locomotor impairment, such as that which may occur following a stroke, results in increased energy expenditure during walking. Previous research quantifying this increased metabolic demand has focused on older people; thus, the aim of this study was to investigate the physiological cost of walking in younger patients following stroke.
Thirteen stroke patients (mean age of 40.7 ± 10.0 yr) and 13 age- and sex-matched controls participated. Each subject walked for 5 min around an elliptical course (two cones set 9.5 m apart) at their own preferred walking speed (PWS). The percentage of expired oxygen was measured using a portable gas analyzer. Following a 5-min rest, the control subjects repeated the procedure, but at the PWS of the patient to whom they were matched.
The PWS of the stroke patients was significantly lower than that of the controls (P < 0.001); however, there was no significant difference in terms of oxygen uptake (P = 0.403). When the distance walked was considered, there was a statistically significant difference in oxygen uptake per unit of distance between the two groups (P < 0.001) and also between the patients PWS and the controls walking at the PWS of the patients.
The high metabolic cost of walking would suggest that, even for younger stroke patients, early rehabilitation should consider aerobic evaluation and training with the aim of optimizing functional independence.
1Rehabilitation Medicine Service, UNITED KINGDOM; and 2School of Health and Social Care, Glasgow Caledonian University, Glasgow, Scotland, UNITED KINGDOM
Address for correspondence: Daniel Rafferty, School of Health and Social Care, Glasgow Caledonian University, Glasgow, G4 0BA; E-mail: email@example.com.
Submitted for publication August 2005.
Accepted for publication January 2006.