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When are stroke victims able to return to work? Researchers create ‘effective, low-cost’ test

Photo: AnkiHoglund/iStockphoto

Manchester, England — Walking speed is the strongest predictor of a stoke victim’s ability to return to work, with about 3 feet per second the “critical threshold,” say researchers from Manchester Metropolitan University.

For the study, 61 participants between 18 and 65 years old – 46 of whom were stroke victims – walked for three minutes while researchers recorded their speed and distance.

Overall, the stroke victims walked slower and less efficiently. The 23% who had returned to work averaged almost 6 feet per second, with 90% walking faster than 3 feet per second. In contrast, the victims who hadn’t return to work averaged 2.5 feet per second.

The researchers call the walking test an effective, low-cost way to determine a stroke survivor’s ability to return to work.

“To return to work, you must be able to walk to your car, bus, office and meeting rooms,” lead study author Hannah Jarvis, a research associate at the university, said in a Sept. 26 press release. “If you can’t walk or you get tired easily, your ability to do your job is going to be seriously impacted.”


Jarvis and her colleagues recommend clinicians use the test to guide stroke survivors’ progress during rehabilitation to gauge readiness for return to work.

“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,” Jarvis said.

The study was published online Sept. 26 in Stroke, the journal of the American Heart Association.

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