Physiotherapy, based on the Bobath concept, may influence the gait pattern in persons with limb-girdle muscle dystrophy: a multiple case series study.

There are few studies on possible effects of physiotherapy for adults with muscular dystrophy. The aim of this study was to examine if treatment based on the Bobath concept may influence specific gait parameters in some of these patients.  A single-subject experimental design with A-B-A-A phases was used, and four patients, three with limb-girdle muscular dystrophy (LGMD) and one with fascioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy (FSHD), were included. The patients had 1 hour of individually tailored physiotherapy at each working day for a period of 3 weeks. Step length, step width and gait velocity were measured during the A-B-A-A phases by use of an electronic walkway. Walking distance and endurance were measured by use of the ‘6 minute walk test’. The three LGMD patients, who initially walked with a wide base of support, had a narrower, velocity-adjusted step width after treatment, accompanied with the same or even longer step length. These changes lasted throughout follow-up. Moreover, two of the patients were able to walk a longer distance within 6 minutes after the treatment period. The fourth patient (with FSHD) had a normal step width at baseline, which did not change during the study.

The results indicate that physiotherapy treatment based on the Bobath concept may influence the gait pattern in patients with LGMD. However, in order to evaluate the effectiveness of physiotherapy to patients with muscular dystrophies, we call for larger studies and controlled trials.

Kjellaug Øygard, Helge Hæstad, Lone Jørgensen. Physiotherapy, based on the Bobath concept, may influence the gait pattern in persons with limb-girdle muscle dystrophy: a multiple case series study. Physiotherapy Research International , Apr 9, 2010, online article ahead of print

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