Date of Award

2018

Document Type

Scholarly Project

Degree Name

Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT)

Department

Physical Therapy

First Advisor

Meridee Danks

Abstract

INTRODUCTION: Walking poles have become increasingly popular not only as a tool for exercising, but also as an assistive device. Physical Therapists use them to assist patients with balance during ambulation. PURPOSE: The purpose of this study is to look at the effects of walking poles on gait speed and posture. METHODS: This study included 60 community ambulators between 21-74 years old (19 males and 41 females), seen for a single session. Participants were fitted for walking poles and given a 3-minute warm-up period to become comfortable with them. A 10 Meter Walk Test (10 MWT) was performed with and without walking poles. Additionally, pictures were taken standing in front of a posture grid and while walking on instrumented walkway (GAITRite) with and without walking poles. Participants completed a walking pole survey at the end of the session. RESULTS: It was found that walking poles do not significantly change gait speed or posture during a single session. Forty-three percent (43%) of the participants perceived improvement in posture with use of walking poles, though only 11.7% of participants posture was found to improve by researchers. Gait speed decreased slightly overall with the use of walking poles during the 10 MWT and GAITRite, but was not statistically significant. CONCLUSION: Walking poles do not significantly change gait speed or posture in community ambulators with in this single session study, though many participants perceived improved posture. Only a few participants had ever used walking poles prior to the study and only a short practice session was allotted. Future studies could explore the effects of walking poles on posture and gait after a longer period of practice with the poles (i.e, 6 weeks). Also, future studies could compare effects of walking pole and other assistive devices (i.e., cane).

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