Measurement Characteristics and Clinical Utility of the 6-Minute Walk Test Among Individuals With Spinal Cord Injury

      Approximately 68% of individuals who sustain a spinal cord injury (SCI) regain walking ability.1 Many recent studies have indicated that individuals with incomplete SCI have much greater capacity to achieve independent ambulation if provided intensive walking training.2 As a result of this research, many rehabilitation efforts now focus on recovery of walking in patients with this potential. Only a few gait-related measurements have been tested for reliability and validity in the SCI population. The 6-Minute Walk Test (6MWT) measures the distance an individual can ambulate in 6 minutes. The test has been assessed for reliability and validity in many populations, and it has demonstrated excellent reliability and adequate to excellent validity in individuals with incomplete SCI. It has also demonstrated sensitivity to change in the acute stages of recovery and 6 months postinjury. Normative values allow clinicians to compare individuals with SCI to individuals without neurologic injury. The 6MWT is free and requires minimal equipment, which makes it feasible for routine use in clinical practice.
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