Relationship between perceived and measured changes in walking after stroke

Ada Tang, Janice J. Eng*, Debbie Rand

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Examining participant-perceived change in walking provides insight into whether changes were meaningful for participants. This study examined the relationships between change scores in standardized walking outcomes and ratings of perceived change following exercise poststroke. METHODS: Self- and fast-paced gait speed and Six-Minute Walk Test (6MWT) distance were assessed in 22 participants (age 67 ± 10.3 years, 1.8 ± 0.9 years poststroke) before and after a 3-month exercise program. Perceived changes were evaluated using a 15-point Likert scale. Correlation analyses between measured and perceived changes were performed. Subgroups of low and high baseline scores were compared for differences in measured and perceived changes. RESULTS: Six-Minute Walk Test change was correlated with perceived change (ρ = 0.52, P = 0.01), greater 6MWT change was demonstrated among participants who perceived improvement compared to those who did not (difference 34.4 m, 95% CI: 17.2-51.6, P = 0.04). After controlling for measured change, participants with low baseline 6MWT distances perceived less change than those who walked high distances at baseline (P = 0.006) even when relative change was equivalent. DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSIONS: A global rating scale using meaningful and context-specific questions was used to determine the relationship between measured and participant-perceived changes in 6MWT distance. A meaningful difference in 6MWT change was observed between participants who did and those who did not perceive improvement. Individuals with lower baseline scores may require larger changes in walking distance to perceive that a change has occurred. This study contributes to a growing body of evidence about the relationships between perceived and measured changes in function and is a step in determining thresholds for perceived change in walking after stroke.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)115-121
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Neurologic Physical Therapy
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2012


  • outcome assessment (health care)
  • stroke
  • walking


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