Underwater treadmill training after neural-paralytic injury
From: Clinical Kinesiology: Journal of the American Kinesiotherapy Association(Vol. 70, Issue 1)
Publisher: American Kinesiotherapy Association
Document Type: Report
Length: 4,714 words
Background: Patients with neural-paralytic conditions, such as spinal cord injury (SCI) and stroke, often experience the partial or complete inability to produce a stable, voluntary gait pattern as a result of some level of paralysis. These individuals also have deficiencies in balance, step initiation, muscle strength, walking speed and cardiovascular function. The use of an aquatic environment can provide additional benefits to the rehabilitation process compared to overground gait therapies. Research in aquatic gait therapy for individuals post-SCI and stroke has shown improvements in balance, leg strength, muscle spasticity, walking performance, pulmonary function, cardiovascular response, and quality of life. Recent gait rehabilitation research has focused on combining a therapeutic aquatic environment with the known benefits of treadmill based gait training. Purpose: This review presents research performed on the gait restorative effects of UTT for adults with neural-paralytic injuries, including SCI and stroke. Results: In the limited amount of published literature, underwater treadmill training (UTT) has demonstrated the ability to enhance balance, leg strength, gait performance and cardiovascular performance of individuals with neural-paralytic conditions. Conclusion: The results reported by the studies in this review show that UTT may be a useful rehabilitation modality for improving cardiovascular health, mobility, balance, and strength for individuals with neural-paralytic conditions. Further studies examining the efficacy of UTT for individuals with neural-paralytic injury is however needed to justify integration of UTT protocols into conventional rehabilitation care plans. Keywords: Spinal cord injury, stroke, underwater treadmill training, aquatic, rehabilitation.