Stroke Gait Therapy Combines Thinking Skills with Walking
A new 4 year research program focused on a unique way to teach stroke victims how to walk is sponsored by the American Heart Association and being conducted by Prudence Plummer-D’Amato, who is an assistant professor of physical therapy at Northeastern University. The project with be conducted at New England Rehabilitation Hospital in Woburn, Mass.
What is so special about it is that it will compare traditional physical therapy that uses just walking as the therapy with a group that uses walking plus some cognitive (thinking) skill such as talking or counting numbers backwards. The ability to walk and carry on a conversation is something that many stroke survivors have problems with. This is called shifting attention and it could also mean paying attention to street signs when walking and potentially may disrupt social skills.
The outcomes will be very interesting. Is it possible that under a more demanding situation (the thinking tasks) that the motor skill of walking could be more quickly improved or enhanced? I guess only time will tell.
The goal of the study is purely functional with the aim of improving physical rehabilitation and allowing therapist to implement therapy that yields real world results. This appears to be a very good outcome to aim for. Real world application and function is what it is all about. Therapies that can enhance the quality of life for stroke survivors are much needed.
You can read more about the stroke walking research here.