Stroke survivors can perform self-evaluation of function with the assistance from their carer or family members at home. Three measures are recommended namely walking speed, lower limb strength and balance using simple functional tests as described below:

 

  1. Timed 10 meter walk test

Timed 10-meter walk test is a test that measure walking speed (Bohannon 1997; Wolfson et al. 1990).  A person is instructed to walk 12 meter at their comfortable speed and without over balancing.  Measurement of time taken to complete a specified 10 meter from the 12 meter course can be performed by carer.  Walking speed is calculated using a formula; velocity (metres/minute) = 600/time (secs).  The Timed 10-meter walk test is reported as a reliable and valid measurement tool for gait speed in patients who have had strokes (Richards et al. 1995). A speed of 70 metres/minute or more is required for safe road crossing (Bohannon 1997).

 

  1. Five times sit to stand test

Ability to stand up from a sitting position has been regarded as representing lower extremity muscle strength (McCarthy et al. 2004). Five times sit to stand test can be used to measure functional lower limb strength following a stroke.  During the test, time is taken for a person to complete five repetitions of sit to stand.  The person is asked to stand up from a standard chair of height 44.5 cm and depth 38.0 cm with both arms folded to chest and perform five repetitions of sit to stand as fast as he could. Time is recorded at initial position of sitting to sitting down again after the fifth stand (McCarthy et al. 2004). The test is reliable in measuring sit to stand ability in elderly with physical problems (Ostchega 2000; Lord 2002; Schaubert & Bohannon 2005). Any score of 12 seconds and more to complete the test demonstrates reduction in lower limb strength (Bohannon 2006).

 

  1. Time up and go test

The Timed Up and Go test is a simple test used to assess a person’s mobility and balance. The test is used frequently in the elderly population, as it is easy to administer and can generally be completed by most older adults (Yim-Chiplis & Talbot 2000). The test measures the time that a person takes to rise from a chair, walk three metres, turn around, walk back to the chair, and sit down. The person is expected to wear their regular shoes and use any mobility aids that they would normally require during the test (Podsiadlo & Richardson 1991.

 

Graphic source: strokeengine.ca (click picture to enlarge)

 

Literature suggests that scores of ten seconds or less indicate normal mobility, 11 – 20 seconds are within normal limits for frail elderly and disabled patients, and greater than 20 seconds means the person needs assistance outside and indicates further examination and intervention. A score of 30 seconds or more suggests that the person may be prone to falls (American College of Rheumatology, Alberta Health Services).