Open Access Open Badges Research article

Responsiveness of the ten-metre walk test, Step Test and Motor Assessment Scale in inpatient care after stroke

Katharine Scrivener123*, Karl Schurr3 and Catherine Sherrington1

Author Affiliations

1 Musculoskeletal Division, The George Institute of Global Health, The University of Sydney, PO Box M201 Missenden Road, Sydney 2050 NSW, Australia

2 Department of Health Professions, Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia

3 Physiotherapy Department, Bankstown-Lidcombe Hospital, Sydney, Australia

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BMC Neurology 2014, 14:129  doi:10.1186/1471-2377-14-129

Published: 16 June 2014



Responsiveness of a measurement tool is its ability to detect change over time. The aim of this study was to determine the responsiveness and floor/ceiling effects of the ten-metre walk test (10mWT), Step Test and Motor Assessment Scale (MAS) lower limb items.


An inception cohort study was conducted, including 190 stroke survivors admitted to a comprehensive stroke unit. The 10mWT, Step Test and MAS were administered within 48 hours of admission and repeated in the 48 hours before discharge. Responsiveness was analysed with Effect Size (ES), Standardised Response Mean (SRM) and a median-based Effect Size (mES). Floor/ceiling effects were calculated as the percentage of participants scoring the lowest/highest possible scores.


Responsiveness of each outcome measure varied according to the statistic used. Values for the 10mWT were ES 1.44, SRM 0.93, mES 0.45; the step test ES 1.99, SRM 0.88, mES 0.36; MAS sit-to-stand (item 4) score ES 1.27, SRM 1.00, mES 0.50; and for MAS item 5 (walking) ES 1.43, SRM 1.10, mES 0.50. The MAS item 3 (sitting balance) was moderately responsive in all analyses (ES 0.72, SRM 0.71, mES 0.50). The MAS mobility score (summed items 3-5) consistently showed large responsiveness (ES 1.42, SRM 1.16, mES 0.92). The Step Test had the highest proportion of participants who didn’t change (46%) and item 4 of the MAS showed the largest ceiling effect on discharge (44%).


Most measures were able to detect change in motor performance during inpatient stroke rehabilitation but the MAS mobility score was the only measure that demonstrated large responsiveness and no marked floor or ceiling effects.

Stroke; Responsiveness; Sensitivity; Motor performance; Measurement