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International Journal of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation

International Journal of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation
Open Access

ISSN: 2329-9096

Abstract

Robotic Assist-As-Needed as an Alternative to Therapist-Assisted Gait Rehabilitation

Shraddha Srivastava, Pei Chun Kao, Darcy S Reisman, John P Scholz, Sunil K Agrawal and Jill S Higginson

Objective: Body Weight Supported Treadmill Training (BWSTT) with therapists’ assistance is often used for gait rehabilitation post-stroke. However, this training method is labor-intensive, requiring at least one or as many as three therapists at once for manual assistance. Previously, we demonstrated that providing movement guidance using a performance-based robot-aided gait training (RAGT) that applies a compliant, assist-as-needed force-field improves gait pattern and functional walking ability in people post-stroke. In the current study, we compared the effects of assist-as-needed RAGT combined with functional electrical stimulation and visual feedback with BWSTT to determine if RAGT could serve as an alternative for locomotor training. Methods: Twelve stroke survivors were randomly assigned to one of the two groups, either receiving BWSTT with manual assistance or RAGT with functional electrical stimulation and visual feedback. All subjects received fifteen 40-minutes training sessions. Results: Clinical measures, kinematic data, and EMG data were collected before and immediately after the training for fifteen sessions. Subjects receiving RAGT demonstrated significant improvements in their selfselected over-ground walking speed, Functional Gait Assessment, Timed Up and Go scores, swing-phase peak knee flexion angle, and muscle coordination pattern. Subjects receiving BWSTT demonstrated significant improvements in the Six-minute walk test. However, there was an overall trend toward improvement in most measures with both interventions, thus there were no significant between-group differences in the improvements following training. Conclusion: The current findings suggest that RAGT worked at least as well as BWSTT and thus may be used as an alternative rehabilitation method to improve gait pattern post-stroke as it requires less physical effort from the therapists compared to BWSTT.

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