Objective: To assess the effects of cane use on the hemiplegic gait of stroke patients, focusing on the temporal, spatial, and kinematic variables. Design: Case-control study comparing the effect of walking with and without a cane using a six-camera computerized motion analysis system. Setting: Stroke clinic of a tertiary care hospital. Participants: Fifteen ambulatory stroke patients were analyzed, including 10 men and 5 women (mean age, 56.9 years; mean time since stroke, 9.8 weeks). Nine age-matched healthy elderly subjects were recruited as a control group. Results: Stroke patients walking with a cane showed significantly increased stride period, stride length, and affected side step length, as well as decreased cadence and step width (p < .05) in comparison with those who walked without a cane. There were no significant differences in the gait phases and the five gait events of hemiplegic gait walking with or without a cane. Cane use thus may have more effect on spatial variables than on temporal variables. The affected-side kinematics of hemiplegic gait with a cane showed increased pelvic obliquity, hip abduction, and ankle eversion during terminal stance phase; increased hip extension, knee extension, and ankle plantar-flexion during preswing phase; and increased hip adduction, knee flexion, and ankle dorsiflexion during swing phase as compared with hemiplegic gait without a cane. A cane thus improved the hemiplegic gait by assisting the affected limb to smoothly shift the center of body mass toward the sound limb and to enhance push off during preswing phase. It also improved circumduction gait during swing phase. Conclusion: Stroke patients walking with a cane demonstrated more normal spatial variables and joint motion than did those without a cane.
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