Researchers at the Neurological Institute of New York, part of the Columbia University Medical Center, New York, New York, conducted a systematic review to summarize the effects of exercise programs on gait performance in people with lower-limb amputations, and to assess the quality of the evidence for adults who ambulate with leg prostheses. In the study, published online September 26 in the journal Prosthetics and Orthotics International, the researchers conclude that higher quality research is required to determine the effects.
Six databases were searched for one- and two-group studies published through June 2013 that reported the effects of exercise on gait speed. After reviewing 623 citations and including eight studies in their examination, the research team found that the quality level of the combined evidence was low, with few randomized control trials and multiple sources of bias evident within the heterogeneous group of studies. The 11 exercise programs, which included three control conditions, demonstrated small to large effect size improvements in self-selected gait speed. Use of exercise to improve gait speed was supported by low-quality evidence, with low to moderate quality of evidence to suggest that specific functional exercise programs were more effective than supervised walking.