Stroke is an significant cause of severe disability and impaired motor function. Treatment modalities that improve motor function in patients with stroke are called for. The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of kinesthetic taping of the anterior thigh and knee on maximal walking speed and clinical indices of spasticity in patients with stroke. Thirty-two patients (9 women) receiving rehabilitation after stroke (average, 50 days since stroke) who had impaired walking ability were recruited. Primary outcome was maximal walking speed measured by the 10-meter walk test. Secondary outcomes were number of steps taken during the test and clinical signs of spasticity measured by the Tardieu Scale. Tests were conducted prior to and immediately after application of kinesthetic tape to the anterior thigh and knee of the paretic lower limb. After application of the tape, the maximal walking speed increased, on average, by 0.08 m/s (95% CI, 0.04 to 0.12; P < .0001). The number of steps taken during the test was significantly decreased by 1.4 steps (95% CI, -2.3 to -0.5; P < .0031). The Tardieu scores were not significantly changed by the tape intervention, although a trend was seen that suggested a lesser degree of spasticity.
The results of this study indicate that kinesthetic taping of the anterior thigh and knee provides an immediate improvement in walking function in patients with stroke. Such a positive effect on motor function could be a useful adjunct in physical therapy and rehabilitation of patients with stroke.