New Study Supports 10-Foot Backward Walk Test Tool for Fibromyalgia
The 3 meter backward walk test (3MBWT) has proven to be a reliable tool for gait assessment in multiple patient populations. However, prior to this study, its reliability in fibromyalgia (FM) had not been evaluated.
According to the researchers, one of the most debilitating symptoms experienced by nearly half of fibromyalgia patients is impaired balance. More specifically, patients often report non-specific postural balance disorder, reduced mobility performance, as well as increased risk and occurrence of falls.
It was also observed that alterations in movements that require attention and execution function, such as those related to gait, have been detected among patients with fibromyalgia. As a result, this population often shows lower performance on balance tests.
The team of investigators, led by Juan Luis Leon-Llamas, Grupo de Investigación Physical Activity and Quality of Life (AFYCAV), Faculty of Sports Sciences, University of Extremadura, aimed to determine the reliability of the test under single and dual-task conditions.
Fibromyalgia Symptom Examination with 3MBWT and TUG
For the research, a total of 21 women with fibromyalgia completed the revised Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire along with 2 physical fitness assessments. The Time Up and Go (TUG) test was used to assess the patients’ balance and the likelihood of falls, which was also taken into account in the 3MBWT as it assessed neuromuscular control, proprioception, and protective reflexes.
The Timed Up and Go activity consisted of patients getting up from an armless chair, walking a distance of 3 meters without running, turning around a cone, and then walking back to the chair to sit down again. For the 3MBWT assessment, the researchers marked a distance of 3 meters that was measured with black tape to indicate the start and end points. Starting at the starting mark, the patients had to walk backwards as fast as they could while maintaining safety; they were allowed to look back if necessary.
The tests were performed under single and double task conditions. After implementing the single-task condition, patients were instructed to repeat the trials and subtract 2 by 2 while starting from a random number below 100 to incorporate the dual-task condition.
The reliability of the 3-meter walk-back test
The data showed that the 3MBWT can be considered reliable under one or two task conditions when measured simultaneously with a manual stopwatch and an automatic Chronopic stopwatch. Results from the test and retest of the 3MBWT and TUG, with the different devices, demonstrated strong concurrent validity.
According to the researchers, the relationships between performance of the 3MBWT under test and retest conditions under single-task and dual-task conditions measured with different devices and disease impact were high. Higher reliability was observed when using a Chronopic stopwatch compared to a manual one.
However, the study listed some notable limitations, such as the small population size and the fact that men were not included for the evaluation. Therefore, the researchers stated their inability to generalize the results, even when they only applied to women.
“The results obtained from this study show that the 3MBWT is a reliable tool under single- and dual-task conditions in women with fibromyalgia. This test also shows high concurrent validity with the TUG test, and its performance is related to the impact of the disease,” they concluded. “These results may assist clinicians and researchers in assessing balance and functional mobility and in interpreting the effect of interventions in this population.”
The study “Test-Retest Reliability and Concurrent Validity of the 3 m Backward Gait Test under Single and Dual Task Conditions in Women with Fibromyalgia“was published in the Journal of Clinical Medicine.