Reduced gait stability in high-functioning poststroke individuals

Tal Krasovsky, Anouk Lamontagne, Anatol G. Feldman, Mindy F. Levin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Falls during walking are a major cause of poststroke injury, and walking faster may decrease the ability to recover following a gait perturbation. We compared gait stability between high-functioning poststroke individuals and controls and evaluated the effect of gait speed on gait stability. Ten stroke subjects and ten age-matched controls walked on a self-paced treadmill at two speeds (matched/faster). Movement of the nonparetic/dominant leg was arrested unexpectedly at early swing. Poststroke individuals lowered the perturbed leg following perturbation (58% of cases) while controls maintained the leg elevated (49% of cases; P < 0.01). In poststroke individuals, double-support duration was restored later than in controls (4.6 ± 0.8 vs. 3.2 ± 0.3 strides; P < 0.007), and long-term phase shifts of arm and leg movements were larger and less coordinated on the paretic side. A moderate speed increase (~20%) enhanced the incidence of leg lowering in controls but not in stroke subjects. Faster walkers in both groups had a more coordinated response, limited to the nonparetic siDe in the stroke group. However, faster walkers were not more stable following perturbation. Our results suggest that gait perturbations can target basic control processes and identify neurological locomotor deficits in individuals with fall risk. Central regulation of body translation in space is involved in recovery of steady-state walking. Impaired descending control (stroke) decreases the ability of the motor system to recover from perturbations and regulate interlimb phase relationships, especially when changing gait speed. However, interlimb coordination may not be a major factor in the recovery of gait stability.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)77-88
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Neurophysiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • CVA
  • Gait
  • Interlimb coordination
  • Locomotion
  • Perturbation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • General Neuroscience


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