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Stroke is the leading cause of adult disability in the United States. Stroke-related impairments of gait pose a serious challenge in achieving independent living among stroke survivors and are associated with a high incidence of falls. Specifically, asymmetry of gait with increased reliance on the unaffected limb is a common problem post stroke. The overall objective of this research is to test the effectiveness of a new, simple, and a low-cost rehabilitation approach, namely Discomfort-induced (DI) gait therapy that focuses on improving ambulation by reducing gait asymmetry in people with stroke.  The experimental design randomly assigns patients who are more than 1 year post-stroke to two groups. The experimental group will receive DI therapy combined with conventional physical therapy for a period of six weeks; the control group will only receive conventional physical therapy. Immediate and retention (four months out) results from both groups will be compared. The specific aims are: (1) To evaluate the effectiveness of DI therapy compared to conventional therapy alone in improving gait symmetry, motor ability, and functional independence in individuals with chronic stroke; (2) To evaluate whether the improvement is sustained post-DI therapy. This new exploratory research is of principal significance because, if successful, the outcomes from this study could be used to augment conventional rehabilitation strategies aimed at helping stroke patients to achieve maximal independence in mobility and activities of daily living.

(Grant from American Heart Association)

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