Wener et al.: Treadmill training with partial body weight support and physiotherapy in stroke patients: a preliminary comparison
Treadmill training with partial body weight support can restore the gait ability of chronic non-ambulatory hemiparetic subjects. A combination of physiotherapy and treadmill training may accelerate the rate of recovery. Therefore a randomized study was planned. Twenty-eight non-ambulatory hemiparetic patients were randomly assigned to group A or B. A 3-week baseline of conventional therapy was followed by 15 sessions of physiotherapy and treadmill training in patients of group A and by 15 sessions of treadmill training in patients of group B over a period of 3 weeks. Follow-up was 4 months later. The major outcome variables were gait ability and ground level walking velocity. Gait ability and velocity did not change during the baseline. In group B, five patients became independent walkers after the specific intervention, whereas 10 patients of group A regained independent walking ability in the same period (P < 0.05). Four months later group differences had waned. Three weeks of treadmill training plus physiotherapy accelerated the restoration of gait ability in hemiparetic subjects, however, the double amount of therapy in group A does not exclude a simple dose-response phenomenon.