This study investigated the interactions between gait and three different cognitive tasks in people after stroke. Thirteen people post-stroke who were living in the community, were able to walk 10 m without physical assistance, and could respond verbally to auditory stimuli participated. Participants performed a walking task alone, three different cognitive tasks while seated, and each cognitive task in combination with walking. Gait data were acquired continuously for approximately 3 min. Reaction time and accuracy were recorded for two of the cognitive tasks (visuospatial task, working memory task). Speech samples from the spontaneous speech task were analyzed on several dimensions of language. Significant dual task effects were observed for gait speed, stride time, average stride length, and cadence, but not for stride time variability. Speech produced more gait interference than memory and visuospatial tasks. Interference effects on cognition were minimal; only speech was significantly affected by concurrent walking. Narratives in the dual task condition had more pauses, shorter sentences, but more utterances with new information. Even though participants in this study were mobility-impaired, they prioritized the cognitive tasks. Future research should determine whether dual task training can reduce gait decrements in dual task situations in people after stroke. © 2007 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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