Since then, more large scale trials have been completed. The inconclusive result of the Cochrane review could be partially the result of comparing
treadmill walking with other mechanised walking (such as an electromechanical gait trainer) which may be expected to result in even more practice than treadmill walking. A systematic review examining electromechanical gait trainers only (Mehrholz et al 2010) found an increase in the likelihood of walking. We therefore planned a systematic review focusing broadly on any mechanically assisted walking, and comparing it with overground walking so that therapists and health administrators would have evidence to help guide decision making in terms of investing in mechanical walking equipment. In particular, we were interested in whether any benefits of mechanically assisted walking were still apparent in the long term or whether the effect was short lived. Clinicians still seem reluctant selleck to implement PD0332991 order treadmill training for stroke patients due to a fear that an abnormal walking pattern will be practised (Hesse 2008) resulting in abnormal overground walking (Davies 1999). We were therefore interested in examining any aspects of walking commonly measured, such as speed and capacity, which would shed some light on whether this fear is reasonable. The specific research questions for this review were: 1. In subacute, non-ambulatory
patients after stroke, does mechanically assisted walking with body weight support result in more independent walking than overground walking in the short term? In order to make recommendations based on the highest level of evidence, this review included only randomised or quasi-randomised trials in which Linifanib (ABT-869) patients undergoing inpatient stroke rehabilitation to enable them to walk were randomised to receive either mechanically assisted walking with body weight support or assisted overground walking. Searches were conducted of the following databases: MEDLINE (1966 to August Week
4 2009), CINAHL (1982 to August Week 4 2009), EMBASE (1980 to August Week 4 2009) and PEDro (to August Week 4 2009), without language restrictions for relevant articles. Search terms included words relating to stroke, exercise therapy, and locomotion (see Appendix 1 on the eAddenda for the full search strategy). In addition, we contacted authors about trials that we knew were in progress from trial registration. Title and abstracts were displayed and screened by one reviewer to identify relevant studies. Full paper copies of relevant studies were retrieved and their reference lists were screened. The methods of retrieved papers were extracted so that reviewers were blinded to authors, journals and outcomes and examined against predetermined inclusion criteria (Box 1) by two independent reviewers. Conflict of opinion was resolved by consensus after discussion with a third reviewer.