Improvements in speed-based gait classifications are meaningful

Arlene Schmid*, Pamela W. Duncan, Stephanie Studenski, Sue Min Lai, Lorie Richards, Subashan Perera, Samuel S. Wu

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

476 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE - Gait velocity is a powerful indicator of function and prognosis after stroke. Gait velocity can be stratified into clinically meaningful functional ambulation classes, such as household ambulation (<0.4 m/s), limited community ambulation (0.4 to 0.8 m/s), and full community ambulation (>0.8 m/s). The purpose of the current study was to determine whether changes in velocity-based community ambulation classification were related to clinically meaningful changes in stroke-related function and quality of life. METHODS - In subacute stroke survivors with mild to moderate deficits who participated in a randomized clinical trial of stroke rehabilitation and had a baseline gait velocity of 0.8 m/s or less, we assessed the effect of success versus failure to achieve a transition to the next class on function and quality of life according to domains of the Stroke Impact Scale (SIS). RESULTS - Of 64 eligible participants, 19 were initially household ambulators, and 12 of them (68%) transitioned to limited community ambulation, whereas of 45 initially limited community ambulators, 17 (38%) became full community ambulators. Function and quality-of-life SIS scores after treatment were significantly higher among survivors who achieved a favorable transition compared with those who did not. Among household ambulators, those who transitioned to limited or full community ambulation had significantly better SIS scores in mobility (P=0.0299) and participation (P=0.0277). Among limited community ambulators, those who achieved the transition to full community ambulatory status had significantly better scores in SIS participation (P=0.0085). CONCLUSIONS - A gait velocity gain that results in a transition to a higher class of ambulation results in better function and quality of life, especially for household ambulators. Household ambulators possibly had more severe stroke deficits, reducing the risk of "ceiling" effects in SIS-measured activities of daily living and instrumental activities of daily living. Outcome assessment based on transitions within a mobility classification scheme that is rooted in gait velocity yields potentially meaningful indicators of clinical benefit. Outcomes should be selected that are clinically meaningful for all levels of severity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2096-2100
Number of pages5
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Functional recovery
  • Gait velocity
  • Quality of life
  • Rehabilitation


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