Impaired sitting balance is common in persons with stroke, affecting postural control in different directions. However, studies seldomly investigate sitting balance in severely affected non-ambulatory persons with stroke and precise assessment including the diagonal directions are scarce.
Are measurements of maximal voluntary weight-shifts decreased in severely affected persons with stroke in comparison to healthy controls, and is there a relationship with clinical measurements of trunk control, sitting and standing balance?
14 Persons with stroke were recruited in the rehabilitation phase along with 32 healthy controls. A clinical pressure platform (RM Ingénierie, France) evaluated the weight-distribution during static sitting and measurements of maximal voluntary weight-shifts, by centre of pressure displacements in six directions. Clinical measurements included Trunk Control Test, Trunk Impairment Scale and Berg Balance Scale.
The persons with stroke had a mean (SD) age of 69 (17) years, including 5 females and 9 males and were on average 57 (40) days post stroke. No patient was able to walk without manual support and median (IQR) Berg Balance Scale score was 17 (6-33) out of 56 points. Measurements showed that the centre of pressure distance was significantly smaller in all directions in persons with stroke compared to healthy controls (p < 0.05). The clinical measurements demonstrated moderate to very high correlations with centre of pressure distance in the diagonal forward, diagonal backward and lateral directions (r = 0.54 – 0.89).
This study reveals that measurements of maximal voluntary weight-shifts are feasible and show clinically relevant deficits in severely affected non-ambulatory persons with stroke. Especially the lateral and diagonal directions can be of interest to investigate further as they are most strongly correlated with clinical measurements of balance. Reaching exercises in these directions could be considered a core element of rehabilitation for this group of patients.

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