Background: Falls are prevalent among cancer survivors, and neuropathy, a side effect from chemotherapy treatment, is thought to contribute to falls. While falls commonly occur during walking, there is limited information about gait function in cancer survivors with neuropathy.Research Question: What is the difference between gait speed and gait variability in cancer survivors with and without self-reported neuropathy and healthy controls? Methods: Seventeen cancer survivors and 12 healthy individuals [age: 53.5 (11.8), gender: 10 females] participated in a single testing session. Cancer survivors were grouped into neuropathy [n = 9; age: 61.9 (6.1); gender: 8 females] and no neuropathy [n = 8; age: 50.75 (14.1); gender: 7 females] based on the self-reported FACT/GOG Neurotoxicity subscale questionnaire. All participants completed two walking trials at their comfortable pace across a 6 m pressure sensitive walkway. A one-way ANOVA with Tukey's post-hoc analysis and effect sizes were used to detect differences in gait speed, step length variability, and step width variability between groups. Results: Although there were no group differences in gait speed, a significant main effect was found for step length variability (p = 0.03, η2 = 0.24) between groups. Step length variability was significantly less in cancer survivors with neuropathy than healthy controls (p = 0.05, d = 1.30). There was a significant main effect for step width variability between groups (p = 0.05, η2 = 0.20). Cancer survivors with neuropathy had significantly greater step width variability than healthy controls (p = 0.04, d = 1.04). Significance: Cancer survivors with neuropathy display greater step width variability and less step length variability than healthy controls. Gait variability may be a more sensitive marker than gait speed to track mobility in cancer survivors with neuropathy symptoms. Assessing and treating gait function in cancer survivors with neuropathy symptoms may improve everyday ambulation.
- Cancer survivors
- Gait speed
- Gait variability
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Orthopedics and Sports Medicine