Introduction: Stroke is the leading cause of disability in adults. The correlations of balance and gait parameters are important for assessing and rehabilitating these patients. The purpose of this study was to compare the sense of balance by center of pressure (COP) sway and its relationship with gait parameters and functional independence in left (LH) and right (RH) chronic stroke patients. Twenty-one hemiparetic stroke patients treated at the hemiplegia outpatient clinic were invited to participate in this cross-sectional study. Patients were assessed for dominance, spasticity, injury time, muscle strength, and Functional Independence Measure (FIM). The COP sway was assessed with a force platform. For gait evaluation, patients were asked to walk along a preestablished path in the Motion Analysis Laboratory. The amplitudes of the COP in the anteroposterior (RH- 3.0±1.4 cm and LH-3.1±1.2) and mediolateral (RH- 1.7±1.2 and LH-1.5±0.5 cm) directions were similar in both groups. The parameters considered were length of steps and stride, single stance, gait velocity, and cadence.
Results: only the temporal parameters showed any statistically significant differences. All patients spent more time in the stance phase for the healthy lower limb (LH; p=0.0004; RH; p=0.001), specifically the single stance time. There was no difference in the performance of balance, gait, and functional independence among groups of chronic hemiparetic stroke patients when comparing left and right hemisphere lesions. The LH showed a significant (p<0.05) correlation between stride length, step length, and gait velocity with COP velocity sway for the healthy and paretic lower limbs. In both groups the area of COP was significantly correlated with stride length. Motor FIM was significantly correlated (r=-0.59, p<0.05) with the COP area sway in the left hemiparesis group.
Conclusion: There was no difference in the performance of balance, gait, and functional independence between groups. The left hemiparesis group showed a better correlation of COP and gait parameters than did the right hemiparesis group. The correlation of the COP sway area with stride length in both groups can serve as a guideline in the rehabilitation of these patients where training the static balance may reflect the improvement of the stride length.