Objective To evaluate the cardiovascular response during head-out water immersion, underwater treadmill gait, and land treadmill gait in stroke patients.
Methods Ten stroke patients were recruited for underwater and land treadmill gait sessions. Each session was 40minutes long; 5 minutes for standing rest on land, 5 minutes for standing rest in water or on treadmill, 20 minutes for treadmill walking in water or on land, 5 minutes for standing rest in water or on treadmill, and 5 minutes for standing rest on land. Blood pressure (BP) and heart rate (HR) were measured during each session. In order to estimate the cardiovascular workload and myocardial oxygen demand, the rate pressure product (RPP) value was calculated by multiplying systolic BP (SBP) by HR.
Results SBP, DBP, mean BP (mBP), and RPP decreased significantly after water immersion, but HR was unchanged. During underwater and land treadmill gait, SBP, mBP, DBP, RPP, and HR increased. However, the mean maximum increases in BP, HR and RPP of underwater treadmill walking were significantly lower than that ofland treadmill walking.
Conclusion Stroke patients showed different cardiovascular responses during water immersion and underwater gait as opposed to standing and treadmill-walking on land. Water immersion and aquatic treadmill gait may reduce the workload of the cardiovascular system. This study suggested that underwater treadmill may be a safe and useful option for cardiovascular fitness and early ambulation in stroke rehabilitation.
Keywords Blood pressure, Heart rate, Treadmill, Stroke, Rehabilitation