Walking efficiency before and after long-term muscle stretch in patients with spastic paraparesis
Mattsson E, Broström LA, Borg J, Karlsson J
Department of Physical Therapy, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden
Eight patients with stationary, spastic paraparesis were treated with long-term stretch of the hip adductor muscles to improve walking ability. Gait pattern, walking speed and perceived exertion of walking were assessed. Walking efficiency was assessed before and after treatment by measuring oxygen consumption and blood lactate level. After treatment walking pattern was improved. Perceived exertion decreased but walking speed was unchanged. Oxygen cost directly after treatment was lower in six patients, unchanged in one and higher in one. In the patient with unchanged oxygen cost the blood lactate level decreased, probably due to decreased recruitment of fast, type II muscle fibres. Blood lactate was unchanged in the other patients. When assessing walking ability, measurement of energy cost was found to be a valuable supplement to clinical judgement, but in spastic patients both oxygen cost and blood lactate must be considered.
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