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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© 2012 American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.