Self-Paced Walking Test Useful in Lumbar Spinal Stenosis

Test may provide more accurate assessment of walking capacity than standard treadmill test
By Rick Ansorge
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, Nov. 6 (HealthDay News) -- In patients with lumbar spinal stenosis, a self-paced walking test (SPWT) may serve as a feasible and reproducible criterion measure of walking capacity, according to a Canadian study published in the Oct. 15 issue of Spine.

Christy C. Tomkins, Ph.D., of the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada, and colleagues developed a SPWT, examined its test-retest reproducibility, and then used the criterion measure to compare its validity with a standard treadmill test in the assessment of 33 patients.

The researchers found the SPWT was highly reproducible (test-retest intraclass correlation coefficient, 0.98 for total distance walked). Although the researchers showed that the treadmill test was highly correlated with the criterion, they also found that the mean walking distance on the treadmill (611.3 ± 666.0 meters) was likely to significantly underestimate mean walking distance on the SPWT (987.3 ± 913.9 meters).

"It is recommended that, if possible, an observational level ground walking test such as the SPWT be used in evaluating walking capacity in lumbar spinal stenosis when measurement accuracy is of importance," the authors conclude.

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