Changes in Gait Characteristics during and Immediately after the 6-Minute Walk Test in Persons with Multiple Sclerosis: A Systematic Review

Zuhal Abaslyanlk*, Turhan Kahraman, Renee Veldkamp, Özge Ertekin, Alon Kalron, Peter Feys

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Objective: There is limited information about gait patterns during prolonged walking in people with multiple sclerosis (PwMS). The aim of this review was to report on gait metrics during and immediately after the 6-Minute Walk Test (6MWT) in PwMS with different levels of disability. Methods: The systematic search was performed in 3 databases (PubMed, Web of Science, and SCOPUS) using keywords related to multiple sclerosis and 6MWT. Studies that reported on quantitative gait outcomes before and after the 6MWT or multiple time points during the 6MWT were included. The Hedges g effect size (ES) was calculated to determine the magnitude of change in each gait parameter. Results: Fourteen studies (n = 534 PwMS; n = 166 healthy controls) were eligible. Five studies investigated gait parameters prior to and immediately after the 6MWT. Nine studies collected gait measures during the 6MWT. Speed (ES =-0.43 to 0.19), cadence (ES =-0.46 to 0.16), step length (ES =-0.46 to 0.14), stability (ES =-0.35 to 0.33), and regularity (ES =-0.25 to-0.15) decreased in most studies. In the majority of included studies, step time (ES = 0 to 0.35), stance period (ES = 0.12 to 0.58), double support phase (ES = 0.03 to 0.62), variability (ES =-0.19 to 1.13), and asymmetry (ES =-0.79 to 0.62) increased following the 6MWT. The kinetic and kinematic (mainly in dorsiflexion angle [ES =-0.08 to-0.36]) features of gait were also negatively changed after 6 minutes of walking. Walking speed, cadence, step length, stride length, and stride time after 6MWT at a comfortable speed all increased. Changes in the majority of spatiotemporal parameters were more pronounced in PwMS with moderate-To-severe disability compared with PwMS with mild disability. Conclusion: Most quantitative gait parameters deteriorated during the 6MWT, especially in PwMS with moderate-To-severe disability. Impact: The deterioration of gait patterns should be considered when designing therapeutic interventions to increase sustained walking capacity.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberpzac036
JournalPhysical Therapy
Issue number7
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2022


  • 6-Minute Walk Test
  • Fatigability
  • Fatigue
  • Gait
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Walking


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