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Can hemiplegic gait be improved by emphasizing pelvic position?

1 May 2004


Stroke is a leading cause of disability in the United States. Following a stroke, the most common deficit is hemiplegia, or weakness on one side of the person's body. Hemiplegia greatly affects the person's ability to walk using a symmetrical and energy efficient gait pattern. In normal walking, the pelvis rotates 4-10 degrees forwards and backwards in the transverse plane. In individuals with hemiplegia, the pelvis is held back in a retracted position and does not rotate during ambulation. Research investigating central pattern generators, groups of neurons in the spinal cord suggests that realigning the pelvis allows post-stroke patients to utilize their central pattern generators and increases their efficiency of gait. The purpose of this study was to determine whether restoring a more normal pelvic rotation would allow a post-stroke individual to regain a more symmetrical and more efficient gait pattern. Two post-stroke subjects, both 56-years old, one male and one female, participated in this three-phase study. During the first phase, baseline data of the subjects' gait patterns was collected. The second phase of the study was the intervention phase; the subjects were instructed to rotate their pelvis forward from a retracted during ambulation. During the third phase or carryover portion of the study, data was collected to determine if the subjects had learned how to realign their pelvis with ambulation and what effects restoring pelvic rotator had on the subjects' gait pattern. Vie hypothesized that bringing the pelvis into more normal alignment would increase the symmetry and efficiency of the subjects' gait pattern. The results of this study indicate that normalizing pelvic rotation can positively effect the quality and efficiency of hemiplegic gait. This information may give therapists another tool to help people who have suffered strokes regain more functional and symmetrical walking patterns.


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