Walking performance and its recovery in chronic stroke in relation to extent of lesion overlap with the descending motor tract
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We investigated the association between the degree of lesion overlap with the corticospinal tract and walking performance before and after 4-weeks of partial body weight support (PBWS) treadmill training in 18 individuals (ten male, eight female) with a mean age 59 ± 13 years (mean ± SD), range 32–74 years, who were ambulant and 6 months from a subcortical ischaemic stroke. Lesion volumes were manually defined on high resolution T1-weighted 3T-MRI scans and a probabilistic map of the corticospinal tract created using diffusion tensor imaging data collected previously in healthy subjects. The percentage overlap between the lesion and the corticospinal tract was calculated for each patient. Walking performance was determined by measures of 10 m speed, spatiotemporal parameters, percentage recovery of centre of mass (CoM), walking symmetry and 2-min endurance walk prior to and following 4 weeks of treadmill training with PBWS that emphasised normal fast walking. Lesion overlap measures weakly correlated with walking performance measures. Spatiotemporal and performance measures changed in response to training, but spatial symmetry and mechanical energy recovery did not. Walking speed at entry to the study predicted change in response to training of 10 m walk time and swing time asymmetry. Age and lesion overlap did not add to prediction of outcome models. The extent of lesion overlap with the corticospinal tract was not strongly associated with either walking performance or response to gait retraining, despite the correlation of these parameters with upper limb recovery.