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MedBridge provides clinicians and healthcare organizations a comprehensive education platform that includes clinical education, patient education, and home exercise programs to advance their knowledge, engage patients in their recovery, and improve outcomes.
By now, many of you have heard the term the “sixth vital sign” when referring to walking speed. We are all accustomed to taking vital signs to assess the status of our patients, but Fritz and Lusardi remind us about another simple test that gives great insight into the functional status of our patients. These authors suggest that walking speed is “almost the perfect measure.”

Benefits of gait speed assessment

Why would this simple little test be considered the perfect measure? Let’s look at some of the benefits of assessing gait velocity in our patients. The test is:

  1. Reliable, sensitive, specific, and easy to use
  2. Related to functional ability and balance confidence
  3. Potentially predictive of future health status, functional decline, hospitalization, discharge location, and mortality
  4. Reflective of functional and physiological changes
  5. Discriminative in determining potential for rehabilitation
  6. Helpful in predicting falls and fear of falling
  7. Related to quality of life

Just like vital signs, this test should not be used alone. You would not do an examination of your patient and only assess gait velocity! However, as part of your total examination, this is an important piece of the picture of function. It is important because walking speed depends on many factors, such as motor control, muscle strength, sensation, cognition, motivation, and overall health status.

Click here to read more by Karen McCain on The Sixth Vital Sign, including how to access gait velocity plus access a short video from her course: Motor Control, Motor Learning, and Gait Recovery After Stroke.
Whether you are a caregiver, occupational therapist or even a stroke survivor yourself, Saebo  provides stroke survivors young or old access to transformative and life changing products. We pride ourselves on providing affordable, easily accessible, and cutting-edge solutions to people suffering from impaired mobility and function. We have several products to help with the stroke recovery and rehabilitation process.  From the SaeboFlex, which allows clients to incorporate their hand functionally in therapy or at home, to the SaeboMAS, an unweighting device used to assist the arm during daily living tasks and exercise training, we are commitment to helping create innovative products for stroke recovery.  Check out all of our product offerings or let us help you find which product is right for you.

All content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately. Reliance on any information provided by the Saebo website is solely at your own risk.

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