HealthDay News — For younger patients with stroke, walking speed is a strong predictor for return to employment, according to a study published online Sept. 26 in Stroke.

Hannah L. Jarvis, PhD, from Manchester Metropolitan University in the United Kingdom, and colleagues examined the impact of stroke on walking performance in young adults compared to healthy age-matched controls. Data were included from 46 individuals (aged 18 to 65 years) who had had a stroke and 15 healthy age-matched controls. Three-dimensional gait analysis was used to measure temporal and spatial walking parameters.

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The researchers found that compared with controls, stroke participants walked slower and less efficiently. After the stroke, only 23 percent of participants returned to employment. The strongest predictor for return to work was walking speed (sensitivity, 0.90; specificity, 0.82); a threshold of 0.93 m/s was identified. Compared with those who walked slower than the threshold, those who were able to walk faster than the threshold were significantly more likely to return to work after their stroke.

“Walking speed is a really useful tool for clinicians to use to predict return to work. It’s simple, low cost, and effective,” Jarvis said in a statement. “In addition, clinicians can use this measure to guide their patients during rehabilitation. For example, they can focus on increasing walking speed and maintaining quality of walking in order to give their patients a chance of going back to work.”

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