Shuttle Walk Test


Definition - What does Shuttle Walk Test mean?

A shuttle walk test, also called incremental shuttle walking test (ISWT), is a clinical procedure that involves a battery of ambulatory (walking) exercises set at different paces to measure cardiopulmonary function of patients with obstructed airway capacity. A technician places two markers opposite each other on a flat surface to represent the distance a test subject must walk around at gradual speeds. A patient’s walking rate often reflects physiological factors including blood pressure, heart rate, and oxygen saturation levels, indicating their tolerance against a benchmark criterion.

WorkplaceTesting explains Shuttle Walk Test

A certified technician charts a patient’s progress during a shuttle walk test while noting signs of physical distress including dyspnea (labored breathing), dizziness, excessive sweating, and chest tightness. Pulse oximetry and blood pressure equipment are calibrated to assess blood oxygen levels and pulse rate during twelve speed cycles where the heart rate increases. However, individuals with preexisting lung conditions may be susceptible to disruptive breathing patterns, limiting cardiopulmonary functionality without prescribed medication or a supplemental oxygen device.

The epidemiological implications of chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases (COPD) can severely inhibit the oxygen/carbon dioxide exchange of the lungs, rendering a patient incapable of performing a shuttle walk test. Different occupations require employees to work in environmental conditions where exposure to airborne contaminants and personal habits (i.e., smoking) can affect the pulmonary integrity of the lungs. Common chronic obstructive lung diseases can include asthma, chronic bronchitis, and emphysema, which can make walking a strenuous activity.

The Borg scale is a diagram with numerical values of intensity corresponding to shortness of breath gradations that a patient marks at the beginning and end of the shuttle walk test session. A physician coordinates with a technician on using shuttle walk tests as an adjunct technique in rehabilitation treatment based on the degree of cardiopulmonary function of a patient.

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