PURPOSE: The purpose of this study was to identify whether backward walking exercise was more effective than conventional physical therapy for balance and gait in hemiplegic stroke patients.
METHODS: Eighteen patients with chronic stroke were randomly assigned to the experimental (n=9) or control (n=9) group. The experimental and control group performed backward walking exercise and conventional physical therapy, respectively, for 8 weeks. Stability Index (SI) and Weight Distribution Index (WDI) during standing were assessed using the Tetrax Balance System. The Timed Up and Go (TUG) test and Korean version of the Berg Balance Scale (K-BBS) were used to evaluate balance and fall risk. Walking speed, stride length, and step length on the affected side were measured using the 10-Meter Walk and ink foot printing tests. Wilcoxon signed-rank and Mann-Whitney U tests were used for within- and between- group comparisons, respectively.
RESULTS: The experimental group showed significantly higher changes in SI (p<.01), WDI (p<.01), TUG (p<.001), and BBS score (p<.001) following intervention compared with the control group. The experimental group also showed significantly greater improvements in walking speed (p<.01), stride length (p<.001), and step length on the affected side (p<.001) after intervention compared with the control group.
CONCLUSION: Backward walking exercise is an effective intervention to improve balance and gait in hemiplegic stroke patients.