This study describes and contrasts the kinematics and kinetics of stair ambulation in people with chronic stroke and healthy control subjects. Three-dimensional motion data were collected from 10 persons with stroke (7 males) and 10 sex and age-matched older adults as they ascended and descended an instrumented staircase at self-selected speed with and without a handrail. Ankle, knee and hip joint angle and moment profiles were generated during stance and range of motion and peak moments were contrasted between groups, sides (stroke only) and condition. Cadence was lower in stroke than controls, although the kinematic profiles appeared similar during ascent and decent. Notable differences in joint kinetics were evident as the peak extensor moments were typically lower on the affected side in stroke compared with controls and the less affected side. These differences accounted for the lower magnitude net extensor support moment. The lower affected side hip abductor moments likely limited lateral stability. Handrail use tended to reduce the peak moments on the affected side only leading to more side-to-side differences than occurred without the handrail. The findings reveal differences in task performance between stroke and healthy groups that help inform rehabilitation practice.
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