Assessing walking ability in people with HTLV-1-associated myelopathy using the 10 meter timed walk and the 6 minute walk test

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BACKGROUND: Five to ten million persons, are infected by HTLV-1 of which 3% will develop HTLV-1-associated myelopathy (HAM) a chronic, disabling inflammation of the spinal cord. Walking, a fundamental, complex, multi-functional task is demanding of multiple body systems. Restricted walking ability compromises activity and participation levels in people with HAM (pwHAM). Therapy aims to improve mobility but validated measures are required to assess change. STUDY DESIGN: Prospective observational study. OBJECTIVES: To explore walking capacity in pwHAM, walking endurance using the 6 minute walk (6MW), and gait speed, using the timed 10m walk (10mTW). SETTING: Out-patient setting in an inner London Teaching hospital. METHODS: Prospective documentation of 10mTW and 6MW distance; walking aid usage and pain scores measured twice, a median of 18 months apart. RESULTS: Data analysis was completed for twenty-six pwHAM, (8male symbol; 18female symbol; median age: 57.8 years; median disease duration: 8 years). Median time at baseline to: complete 10m was 17.5 seconds, versus 21.4 seconds at follow up; 23% completed the 6MW compared to 42% at follow up and a median distance of 55m was covered compared to 71m at follow up. Using the 10mTW velocity to predict the 6MW distance, overestimated the distance walked in 6 minutes (p<0.01). Functional decline over time was captured using the functional ambulation categories. CONCLUSIONS: The 10mTW velocity underestimated the degree of disability. Gait speed usefully predicts functional domains, shows direction of functional change and comparison with published healthy age matched controls show that these patients have significantly slower gait speeds. The measured differences over 18 months were sufficient to reliably detect change and therefore these assessments can be useful to detect improvement or deterioration within broader disability grades. Walking capacity in pwHAM should be measured using the 10mTW for gait speed and the 6MW for endurance.




Adonis, A., & Taylor, G. P. (2016). Assessing walking ability in people with HTLV-1-associated myelopathy using the 10 meter timed walk and the 6 minute walk test. PLoS ONE, 11(6).

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