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Study looks at getting stroke patients back on their feet
Date:2/11/2011

LOS ANGELES, CALIF. Home-based physical therapy to improve the strength and balance of stroke survivors works about as well to get them walking again as treadmill training done in a physical therapy lab, according to the results of a study presented today by a Duke researcher at the American Stroke Association's International Stroke Conference.

"We have been working for years in rehabilitation to develop the most effective interventions for walking recovery," said Pamela Woods Duncan, Ph.D., PT, professor in the Doctor of Physical Therapy Division at Duke University and principal investigator of the trial. "Until now, there has not been a major, phase III trial to systematically evaluate different interventions."

The NIH-funded study, Locomotor Experience Applied Post-Stroke (LEAPS), was completed over five years at multiple sites to compare a specialized locomotor training program, which includes body-weight supported treadmill training with multiple physical therapists, to an in-home progressive strength and balance program with a single therapist.

"The results of this study show that the more expensive "high tech" therapy was not superior to home strength and balance training," said Walter Koroshetz, M.D., deputy director of NIH's National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

"This is important, because the home-based intervention is more accessible, more feasible and it was also associated with fewer risks in our study," Duncan said.

More than four million stroke survivors have difficulty walking, which often contributes to subsequent falls, bone fractures and an overall decline in health.

Locomotor training relies in part on body-weight supported treadmill training, in which patients are suspended over a treadmill in a harness and walk with help of multiple physical therapists, working their way up to walking without assistance on ground.

"There has been an emerging use of locomotor
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Contact: Erin Pratt
erin.pratt@duke.edu
919-660-1317
Duke University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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