This study investigated the clinical feasibility of combining the electromechanical gait trainer Lokomat with functional electrical therapy (LokoFET), stimulating the common peroneal nerve during the swing phase of the gait cycle to correct foot drop as an integrated part of gait therapy.
Five patients with different acquired brain injuries trained with LokoFET 2-3 times a week for 3-4 weeks. Pre- and post-intervention evaluations were performed to quantify neurophysiological changes related to the patients’ foot drop impairment during the swing phase of the gait cycle. A semi-structured interview was used to investigate the therapists’ acceptance of LokoFET in clinical practice. The patients showed a significant increase in the level of activation of the tibialis anterior muscle and the maximal dorsiflexion during the swing phase, when comparing the pre- and post-intervention evaluations.
This showed an improvement of function related to the foot drop impairment. The interview revealed that the therapists perceived the combined system as a useful tool in the rehabilitation of gait. However, lack of muscle selectivity relating to the FES element of LokoFET was assessed to be critical for acceptance in clinical practice.