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STUDY DESIGN: Cross sectional.
OBJECTIVES: To compare the reactive stepping ability of individuals living with incomplete spinal cord injury or disease (SCI/D) to that of sex- and age-matched able-bodied adults.
SETTING: A tertiary SCI/D rehabilitation center in Canada.
METHODS: Thirty-three individuals (20 with incomplete SCI/D) participated. Participants assumed a forward lean position in standing whilst 8-12% of their body weight was supported by a horizontal cable at waist height affixed to a rigid structure. The cable was released unexpectedly, simulating a forward fall and eliciting one or more reactive steps. Behavioral responses (i.e., single step versus non-single step) were compared using a Chi-square test. The following temporal parameters of reactive stepping were compared using t-tests: the onset of muscle activation in 12 lower extremity muscles (six per limb) and step-off, step contact and swing time of the stepping leg.
RESULTS: Behavioral responses were significantly different between groups (χ
CONCLUSIONS: Reactive stepping ability of individuals with incomplete SCI/D is impaired; however, this impairment is not explained by temporal parameters. The findings suggest that reactive stepping should be targeted in the rehabilitation of ambulatory individuals with SCI/D.
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