Department of Physical Therapy Student Theses, Dissertations and Capstones

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Physical Therapy

Copyright Statement

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College of Health Care Sciences - Physical Therapy Department

First Advisor

Mary T Blackinton

Publication Date / Copyright Date



Nova Southeastern University


Problem Statement: Stepping is a common strategy after a perturbation. Stroke survivors display a predilection for stepping with non-paretic leg. Insight into induced stepping between stroke survivors and age-matched control may guide our understanding for reactive postural control training post stroke. Purpose: To investigate the difference in perturbation-induced stepping between chronic stroke survivors and age-matched controls at three phases of the stepping response: preparation, execution, and landing and association with clinical outcome measures. Procedure: Twenty-one community-dwelling chronic stroke survivors (mean age 59y/o ±13yrs) and 17 age- and gender-matched controls (mean age 54.4y/o ±17yrs) completed this study. Clinical measures of gait, balance, range, sensation, and motor control were assessed. A mechanical weight drop of 10% body weight (BW) was used to create the anterior waist pull perturbation during three stance symmetry positions: equal stance (EQ) and two asymmetrical stance (70% BW on dominant leg and 70% BW on nondominant leg). Ten perturbation trials plus two catch trials at 2% BW were given in a standard randomly order at the three stance positions. Kinematic and kinetic data was collected for perturbation steps. Results: The asymmetrical trials resulted in two types of stepping response, steps with the leg bearing 70% BW (loaded steps – LS) and steps with the leg that had 30% BW (unloaded steps – ULS). All subjects initiated steps more often with their unloaded leg (ULS) in the asymmetrical stance trials. In the stroke group the ULS increased paretic leg stepping compared to EQ (p=0.001) and LS (p=0.001). The stroke group had significantly earlier APA onset with both non-paretic leg (p=0.003) and paretic leg (p=0.028), took significantly more steps with paretic (p=0.01) and non-paretic (p=0.07), shorter step length (paretic, p=0.025 and non-paretic p=0.003), and less change in momentum at landing with paretic leg (p=0.01) compared to controls. Conclusion: Reacting to a perturbation is more challenging for chronic stroke survivors than age- and gender-matched control subjects in the preparation, execution, and landing phase of the stepping response regardless of the leg used. Perturbation training should include stepping with both non-paretic and paretic leg.


Physical Therapy


Psychology, Health and environmental sciences, Balance, Paretic leg, Postural control, Reactive balance, Stepping, Stroke

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