Background and Purpose: Body weight support treadmill training (BWSTT), and most recently, BWSTT combined with body weight support overground training (BWSOGT), has been shown to be effective in improving gait following stroke. However, the efficacy of BWSOGT as an intervention by itself has not been studied. The purposes of this study were to 1) determine if BWSOGT was feasible and effective in improving the balance, functional ambulation, gait symmetry, and gait speed of a patient with chronic deficits secondary to stroke, and 2) to determine if improvements gained through BWSOGT could be maintained for at least four months after intervention had ceased. Methods: A 52 year old male, 34 years post left middle cerebral artery stroke was the participant in this single-subject (ABAA) design. The Berg Balance Scale (BBS), the Functional Ambulation Category (FAC), and GAITRite® analyses of velocity and gait symmetry were measured during all four phases of the study. The two week Al phase was used to establish baseline measures. Intervention during the B phase consisted:of BWSOGT three times a week for four weeks. The two week A2 phase occurred immediately after the B phase, and four months later the two week A3 phase occurred. Visual analysis of the data was done using the Two Standard Deviation Band method. Results:The participant made significant improvements in BBS, velocity, left and right stride length, and step length differential. No changes in FAC, cadence, and toe in/out angle were made. Discussion and Conclusion: The results support the use of BWSOGT to improve the balance and walking abilities in individuals with chronic hemiparesis secondary to stroke. The technique required increased set-up time, two researchers to facilitate the intervention, a larger space needed for treatment, and was physically demanding on the researchers. Although BWSOGT resulted in improvements in balance and gait, the technique used in this study may not be realistic in the clinical setting.
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