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Immunology - Neurological Disorders - Public Health and Epidemiology

Motor Fatigue Measurement by Distance-Induced Slow Down of Walking Speed in Multiple Sclerosis
Published: Friday, April 13, 2012
Author: Rémy Phan-Ba et al.

by Rémy Phan-Ba, Philippe Calay, Patrick Grodent, Gael Delrue, Emilie Lommers, Valérie Delvaux, Gustave Moonen, Shibeshih Belachew

Background and rationale

Motor fatigue and ambulation impairment are prominent clinical features of people with multiple sclerosis (pMS). We hypothesized that a multimodal and comparative assessment of walking speed on short and long distance would allow a better delineation and quantification of gait fatigability in pMS. Our objectives were to compare 4 walking paradigms: the timed 25-foot walk (T25FW), a corrected version of the T25FW with dynamic start (T25FW+), the timed 100-meter walk (T100MW) and the timed 500-meter walk (T500MW).


Thirty controls and 81 pMS performed the 4 walking tests in a single study visit.


The 4 walking tests were performed with a slower WS in pMS compared to controls even in subgroups with minimal disability. The finishing speed of the last 100-meter of the T500MW was the slowest measurable WS whereas the T25FW+ provided the fastest measurable WS. The ratio between such slowest and fastest WS (Deceleration Index, DI) was significantly lower only in pMS with EDSS 4.0–6.0, a pyramidal or cerebellar functional system score reaching 3 or a maximum reported walking distance =4000 m.


The motor fatigue which triggers gait deceleration over a sustained effort in pMS can be measured by the WS ratio between performances on a very short distance and the finishing pace on a longer more demanding task. The absolute walking speed is abnormal early in MS whatever the distance of effort when patients are unaware of ambulation impairment. In contrast, the DI-measured ambulation fatigability appears to take place later in the disease course.