Spasticity in stroke patients interferes with coordinated muscle firing patterns of the lower extremity leading to gait abnormalities. The goal of this study was to improve ankle function during walking by augmenting treadmill gait retraining with a visual EMG biofeedback technique. Eight stroke patients who could ambulate between 0.5 and 0.9 m/s participated in the study. The training consisted of 12 sessions of treadmill walking during which the activity of the tibialis anterior and gastrocnemius lateralis muscles of the affected side was displayed on a computer screen. Targets were shown to indicate to the subject when to activate the monitored muscles. Gait evaluations were performed before and after the training period to test the hypothesis that ankle mechanics improved following the intervention. Improvements in gait function were characterized by changes in temporal gait parameters and lower extremity kinematics and kinetics. Subjects showed an increase in gait speed, time of single leg support on the affected side, ankle power generation at push-off and a reduction in knee extensor moment. These results indicate that treadmill gait retraining augmented via visual EMG-biofeedback facilitates improvements in hemiparetic gait.
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