Research abstract:

Patients with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) report difficulties walking for a prolonged period of time. This study compares gait automaticity between women with CFS and nondisabled controls.

The “stops walking with eyes closed with secondary cognitive task” test is based on the classic “stops walking while talking” test but compares walking with eyes closed while performing a secondary cognitive task in a female CFS population (n = 34) and in female nondisabled controls (n = 38).

When initiating gait, 23.5% of patients with CFS looked toward the ground compared with only 2.6% of nondisabled controls.  After 7 m, subjects were asked to close their eyes, and after another 7 m, they were asked, “How much is 100 minus 7?” Of the patients with CFS, 55.9% stopped walking compared with 5.3% of nondisabled controls.

Less automated walking was observed in patients with CFS than in nondisabled controls (p < 0.001). The test-retest reliability is moderate for global stopping. This simple test observed reduced gait automaticity in patients with CFS for the first time. Dual tasking could be helpful to address the functional limitations found in this particular study.

Reduced gait automaticity in female patients with chronic fatigue syndrome: Case-control study, by JB Eyskens, J Nijs, K Wouters, G Moorkens in J Rehabil Res Dev. 2015;52(7):805-814

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