Posts Tagged Lokomat

[VIDEO] Hocoma Lokomat Product Presentation | UK – YouTube

Relearn how to walk from the beginning with Hocoma’s Lokomat, a robotic-assisted therapy solution that enables intensive gait training. The Lokomat uses an individually adjustable exoskeleton combined with dynamic body weight support. Summit Medical and Scientific are UK distributors for Hocoma. Contact us about the Hocoma Lokomat in the UK, and read more on our website: https://summitmedsci.co.uk/products/h…

 

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[WEB SITE] Regaining the Ability to Walk – Stroke: Emergency Care and Rehabilitation

Regaining the Ability to Walk

Because an acquired neurologic injury (such as a stroke) affects both sensory and motor function, walking can be severely affected. Sensory changes, weakness, and spasticity affect movement strategies, which alter a person’s ability to successfully respond to losses of balance. A stroke affects how much and how often a person walks and also affects walking adaptability—the ability to adapt to different conditions during ambulation—as well as endurance. Gait training generally starts as soon as possible following a stroke, using manual techniques, task-specific training, strengthening, and, when available, body weight-assisted treadmill training and robotic devices.

Gait Training

image: photo of gait training

An example of over-ground gait training.

Movement Strategies Altered by Stroke

A movement strategy or synergy is a flexible, repeatable pattern of movement that can be quickly and automatically accessed by the central nervous system. Movement strategies allow us to store and reuse patterns of movement that have been successful in the past. Strategies are efficient, automatic movement patterns that evolve over time. Each time a loss of balance threatens, the nervous system draws on these pre-programmed movement strategies to ensure the maintenance of balance.Movement strategies used by the nervous system to respond to perturbations are diminished following a stroke.

Ankle Sway

image: illustration of ankle sway

The ankle strategy is used in response to small perturbations is also called ankle sway. Source: Lauren Robertson.

 

The ankle strategy—also called ankle sway—is used in response to small perturbations or losses of balance. When a small loss of balance occurs—as when standing on a moving bus—the foot acts as a lever to maintain balance by making continuous automatic adjustments to the movement of the bus. When a small balance adjustment is needed, muscles close to the floor (anterior tibialis and gastrocnemius) activate first and flow upward in a distal to proximal pattern.

When a perturbation is too large to be successfully handled by the ankle strategy, the hip strategy is needed. When the hip strategyis used, movement is centered about the hip and ankle muscles (anterior tibialis and gastrocnemius) are almost silent. The muscles in the trunk activate first as activation flows downward to the legs in a proximal to distal pattern. So, if the bus stops suddenly and the body bends forward, the low back and hamstrings will contract in that order to return the body to upright.

If the perturbation is strong and your center of gravity moves well past your base of support, it is necessary to take a forward or backward step to regain balance. This is referred to as a stepping strategy. Studies have shown age-related changes in stepping in older adults. Compared to younger people, older adults initiate the stepping strategy in response to smaller losses of balance and tend to take several small steps rather than one larger step (Maki & McIlroy, 2006).

Arm movements have a considerable role in balance control and are part of the strategies discussed above. The upper limbs start to react at the very beginning of a disruption of balance and continue to be active as the body attempts to regain control. By automatically reaching and grasping for support, the arms perform a protective function. In the case of a small perturbation, upper limb movements can prevent a fall by shifting the center of gravity away from the imbalance.

When upper extremity paresis or spasticity is present, post stroke subjects exhibit poor protective reactions during a perturbation of balance. They demonstrate a deficit in anticipatory and reactive postural adjustments. These impairments of the affected upper limbs limit a person’s ability to recover from perturbations during functional tasks such as walking (Arya et al., 2014).

Even in the absence of a neurologic disorder, age-related changes affect upper extremity reaction time when balance is disrupted. Older adults reach for support surfaces more readily than younger adults but the reach-reaction time is slower. Increased tendency to reach for support and a slowing of these reactions have been found to be predictive of falling in daily activities (Maki & McIlroy, 2006).

Comparing Reflexes, Automatic Reactions, and Volitional Movement

Reflexes

Think for a moment that you are cooking dinner and accidentally touch a scalding hot fry pan. You feel the heat and withdraw instantaneously. You aren’t thinking “I better take my hand off the hot pan before it burns me”—your reflexes take care of that for you. The withdrawal is almost instantaneous because your nervous system senses danger and reflexively withdraws.

Automatic Reactions

This type of reaction is used in movement strategies; they are slower than reflexes but faster than volitional movement. They are fast enough to help us respond to losses of balance without having to think.

Volitional Movement

This type of movement requires thought and is relatively slow compared to reflexive and automatic movement. Using our brains to think about movement isn’t very practical when we need something done really fast—by the time your brain warns you to bend your waist, step forward, or grab onto something when the bus stops abruptly, it’s already too late to regain balance.

Activity

Stand up next to your chair. Make sure you are standing on a flat, firm surface. Now close your eyes. Notice that your body sways a little—you are using the ankle strategy to stay balanced. Notice also that after a short amount of time you sway less—that means your nervous system is adjusting. Often, following a stroke, a person looses the ability to use the ankle strategy. This can have a profound impact on balance.

Stand up again. Ask someone to give you a little nudge from behind. Try not to take a step. If it was a truly small nudge you will likely bend at the waist to try to regain your balance. This is an example of the hip strategy.

Now ask your partner to give you a slightly bigger nudge from behind. If the nudge is big enough you’ll have to take a step. This is the stepping strategy.

We use these strategies automatically, all day long, without effort. Someone who has had a stroke can’t access these strategies as quickly as you can. If faced with a nudge from a passerby, or a bus starting/stopping, or a walk on uneven ground, the inability to adjust quickly may result in a fall.

Importance of Walking Early and Often

Regaining the ability to walk following a stroke is of paramount importance to patients and caregivers alike; improving balance and walking leads to greater independence and improves general well-being.

In the first week following a stroke, only one-third of patients are able to walk without assistance. In the following weeks, walking ability generally improves. At 3 weeks, or at hospital discharge, more than half of stroke survivors can walk unaided. By 6 months, more than 80% are able to walk independently without physical assistance from another person (Balasubramanian et al., 2014).

Following a stroke, walking can take a lot of energy; impaired muscle function, weakness, and poor cardiovascular conditioning can double the amount of energy expended. The high energy cost of walking can affect a person’s ability to participate in daily activities and lead to a vicious cycle where physical activity is avoided. For example, in one study, stroke patients walked 50% of the daily amount of matched sedentary adults and used 75% of their VO2 peak for walking at a submaximal rate (Danielsson et al., 2011).

Walking may improve more rapidly when patients are involved in setting specific goals. The results of several motor learning studies in which the person’s attention was focused on the outcome of an action rather than the action itself produced more effective performance than focusing on the quality of the movement (Carr & Shepherd, 2011).

In the hospital, an early goal for walking might be to walk to the next appointment, or to walk at least part of the way, rather than being transported in a wheelchair. Each day the patient should be encouraged to select a distance to walk independently and safely. Initially, this may be only a few steps. The goal is to walk the chosen distance a certain number of times a day, increasing distance as soon as possible, and keeping a record of progress, which gives the patient a specific focus (Carr & Shepherd, 2011).

Walking Adaptability, Stepping, and Postural Control

Walking is greatly dependent upon our ability to adapt to varying environmental conditions and tasks. Walking from the bedroom to the bathroom with a walker requires a different level of attention and adaptability than walking across a busy street carrying a bag of groceries. Even walking and talking can be a challenge for post stroke patients.

Over time, up to 85% of individuals with a stroke regain independent walking ability, but at discharge from inpatient rehab only about 7% can manage steps and inclines or walk the speeds and distances required to walk competently in the community. Limited ability to adjust to changes in the task and environment means a person either avoids walking in complex situations (a safety strategy) or has a heightened risk of falls when required to walk under these challenging conditions (Balasubramanian et al., 2014).

Despite its importance, assessment of walking adaptability has received relatively little attention. Frequently used assessments of walking ability after stroke involve walking short distances (such as the Timed Up and Go test) and examination of isolated limb movements (such as the Fugl-Meyer Assessment). Although valuable, these assessments do not take into account the skills needed to re-engage in safe and independent ambulation in the home and community. Comprehensive assessments and specific interventions are needed to improve walking adaptability (Balasubramanian et al., 2014).

In addition to the ability to adapt to different conditions and tasks, walking adaptability has two other requirements: (1) stepping, and (2) postural control (Shumway-Cook & Woollocott, 2012). Stepping involves the ability to generate and maintain a rhythmic, alternating gait pattern as well as the ability to start and stop. Postural control involves both the musculoskeletal and nervous systems.

To walk effectively, the central nervous system must:

  1. Generate the basic stepping pattern of rhythmic reciprocal limb movements while supporting the body against gravity and propelling it forward.
  2. Maintain control of posture (equilibrium) to keep the center of mass over a constantly moving base of support and maintain the body upright in space.
  3. Adapt to environmental circumstance or changes in the behavioral goal (Balasubramanian et al., 2014).

Walking Adaptability

image: graph of walking adaptability components

Source: Balasubramanian et al., 2014.

 

These components are especially necessary for complex tasks. For example, walking adaptability is crucial on uneven ground or cluttered terrains and when the task requires walking and turning or negotiating a curved path. There are endless combinations of task goals and environmental circumstances that must be considered to comprehensively capture walking adaptability (Balasubramanian et al., 2014).

Walking adaptability is very important for community ambulation. Patla and Shumway-Cook have described “dimensions” that affect a person’s ability to adapt while walking. These are external demands that must be met for successful community mobility:

  • Distance (distance walked)
  • Temporal factors (time needed to cross a busy street or crosswalk, ability to maintain the same speed as those around them)
  • Ambient conditions (rain, heat, snow, etc.)
  • Physical load (packages carried, number of doors that need to be opened)
  • Terrain (stairs, curbs, slopes, uneven ground, grass, elevators, obstacles)
  • Attentional demands (distractions in the environment, noise, cars, crowds, talking)
  • Postural transitions (stopping, reaching, backing up, turning head, change direction)
  • Traffic density (number of people within arm’s reach, unexpected collisions and near collisions with other people) (Shumway-Cook et al., 2002)

Improving Endurance for Walking

It is evident that many patients are discharged from inpatient rehabilitation severely deconditioned, meaning that their energy levels are too low for active participation in daily life. Physicians, therapists, and nursing staff responsible for rehabilitation practice should address this issue not only during inpatient rehabilitation but also after discharge by promoting and supporting community-based exercise opportunities. During inpatient rehabilitation, group sessions should be frequent and need to include specific aerobic training. Physical therapy must take advantage of the training aids available, including exercise equipment such as treadmills, and of new developments in computerized feedback systems, robotics, and electromechanical trainers.

Janet Carr and Roberta Sheperd
University of Sydney, Australia

Although many people affected by stroke have regained some ability to walk by the time they are discharged from rehab, many have low endurance, which limits their ability to perform household tasks or even to walk short distances. After a stroke, walking requires a much higher level of energy expenditure, and upon discharge many stroke patients are not necessarily functionalwalkers (Carr & Sheperd, 2011).

Functional walking is assessed using tests of speed, distance, and time. Minimal criteria for successful community walking include an independent walking velocity of 0.8 m/s or greater (about 2.6 feet/second), the ability to negotiate uneven terrain and curbs, and the physical endurance to walk 500 meters or more. In a review of 109 people discharged from physical therapy, only 7% achieved the minimum level. Cardiorespiratory fitness training can address both the efficiency with which people affected by stroke can walk and the distance they are able to achieve (Carr & Sheperd, 2011).

The loss of independent ambulation outdoors has been identified as one of the most debilitating consequences of stroke. Among stroke survivors 1 year after stroke, the most striking area of difficulty was low endurance measured by the distance walked in a 6-minute walk test. Those subjects able to complete this test were able to walk on average only 250 meters (820 feet) compared to the age-predicted distance of >600 meters (almost 2,000 feet), equivalent to 40% of their predicted ability and not far enough for a reasonable and active lifestyle. The detrimental effect of low exercise capacity and muscle endurance on functional mobility and on resistance to fatigue is likely to increase after discharge if follow-up physical activity and exercise programs are not available (Carr & Sheperd, 2011).

In 2002 the American Thoracic Society (ATS) published guidelines for the 6-minute walk test with the objective of standardizing the protocol to encourage its further application and to allow direct comparisons among different studies and populations. The American Thoracic Society guidelines include test indications and contraindications, safety measures, and a step-by-step protocol as well as assistance with clinical interpretation (Dunn et al., 2015).

Key components of the protocol include the test location, walkway length, measurements, and instructions. According to the American Thoracic Society protocol, the test should be performed on a flat, enclosed (indoor) walkway 30 m (just under 100 feet) in length. This protocol requires 180° turns at either end of the walkway and additional space for turning. The guidelines advise that shorter walkway lengths require more directional changes and can reduce the distances achieved. The influence of directional changes may be amplified in the stroke population, who characteristically have impaired balance, asymmetric gait patterns, and altered responses for turn preparation. Conversely, reducing the number of directional changes may increase the distance achieved (Dunn et al., 2015).

Body Weight-Supported Treadmill Training

Body weight-supported treadmill training (BWSTT) is an increasingly being used to encourage early walking following a stroke. It is a rehabilitation technique in which patients walk on a treadmill with their body weight partly supported. Body weight-supported treadmill training augments walking by enabling repetitive practice of gait (Takeuchi & Izumi, 2013).

In patients who have experienced a stroke, partial unloading of the lower extremities by the body weight-support system results in straighter trunk and knee alignment during the loading phase of walking. It can also improve swing1 asymmetry, stride length, and walking speed, and allows a patient to practice nearly normal gait patterns and avoid developing compensatory walking habits, such as hip hiking and circumduction2 (Takeuchi & Izumi, 2013).

1Swing phase of gait: during walking, the swing phase begins as the toe lifts of the ground, continues as the knee bends and the leg moves forward, and ends when the heel come in contact with the ground.

2Circumduction: a gait abnormality in which the leg is swung around and forward in a semi-circle. The hip is often hiked up to create enough room for the leg to swing forward.

Locomotor Training

image: photo of patient on body-weight supported treadmill

Locomotor Training Program (LTP). Source: Duncan et al., 2007.

image: photo of patient on body-weight supported treadmill

Another example of a body-weight supported treadmill. Source: NIH, 2011.

Treadmill walking allows for independent and semi-supervised practice, for those with more ability, as well as improving aerobic capacity and increasing walking speed and endurance. The very early practice of assisted over-ground and harness-supported treadmill walking is probably critical to good post-discharge functional capacity in terms of both performance and energy levels (Carr & Shepherd, 2011).

The Locomotor Experience Applied Post Stroke (LEAPS) trial—the largest stroke rehabilitation study ever conducted in the United States—set out to compare the effectiveness of the body weight-supported treadmill training with walking practice. Participants started at two different stages—two months post stroke (early locomotor training) and six months post stroke (late locomotor training). The locomotor training was also compared to a home exercise program managed by a physical therapist, which was aimed at enhancing flexibility, range of motion, strength, and balance as a way to improve walking. The primary measure was improvement in walking at 1 year after the stroke (NINDS, 2011).

In the LEAPS trial, stroke patients who had physical therapy at home improved their ability to walk just as well as those who were treated in a training program that requires the use of a body weight-supported treadmill device followed by walking practice. The study, funded by the NIH, also found that patients continued to improve up to 1 year after stroke—defying conventional wisdom that recovery occurs early and tops out at 6 months. In fact, even patients who started rehabilitation as late as 6 months after stroke were able to improve their walking (NINDS, 2011).

“We were pleased to see that stroke patients who had a home physical therapy exercise program improved just as well as those who did the locomotor training,” said Pamela W. Duncan, principal investigator of LEAPS and professor at Duke University School of Medicine. “The home physical therapy program is more convenient and pragmatic. Usual care should incorporate more intensive exercise programs that are easily accessible to patients to improve walking, function, and quality of life.”

Robotic Gait Training Devices

Several lower-limb rehabilitation robots have been developed to restore mobility of the affected limbs. These systems can be grouped according to the rehabilitation principle they follow:

  • Treadmill gait trainers
  • Foot-plate-based gait trainers
  • Over-ground gait trainers
  • Stationary gait trainers
  • Ankle rehabilitation systems
    • Stationary systems
    • Active foot orthoses (Díaz et al., 2011)

The Lokomat System

image: photo of patient using Lokomat

Source: Diaz et al., 2011.

 

Many robotic systems have been developed aiming to automate and improve body weight-assisted treadmill trainers as a means for reducing therapist labor. Usually these systems are based on exoskeleton type robots in combination with a treadmill. One such system—the Lokomat—consists of a robotic gait orthosis and an advanced body weight-support system, combined with a treadmill. It uses computer-controlled motors (drives) that are integrated in the gait orthosis at each hip and knee joint. The drives are precisely synchronized with the speed of the treadmill to ensure a precise match between the speed of the gait orthosis and the treadmill (Díaz et al., 2011).

The LocoHelp System

image: photo of patient using LocoHelp

The LokoHelp gait trainer “Pedago.” Source: Diaz et al., 2011.

 

The LokoHelp is another device developed for improving gait after brain injury. The LokoHelp is placed in the middle of the treadmill surface, parallel to the walking direction and fixed to the front of the treadmill with a simple clamp. It also provides a body weight-support system. Clinical trials have shown that the system improves the gait ability of the patient in the same way as the manual locomotor training; however, the LokoHelp required less therapeutic assistance and thus therapist discomfort is reduced. This fact is a general conclusion for almost all robotic systems to date (Díaz et al., 2011).

The KineAssist

image: photo of KineAssist

Source: Diaz et al., 2011.

 

Over-ground gait trainers consist of robots that assist the patient in walking over ground. These trainers allow patients to move under their own control rather than moving them through predetermined movement patterns. The KineAssist is one robotic device used for gait and balance training. It consists of a custom-designed torso and pelvis harness attached to a mobile robotic base. The robot is controlled according to the forces detected from the subject by the load cells located in the pelvic harness (Díaz et al., 2011).

The ReWalk Robotic Suit

image: photo of patient using ReWalk Robotic Suit

Source: Diaz et al., 2011.

ReWalk is a wearable, motorized quasi-robotic suit that can be used for therapeutic activities. ReWalk uses a light, wearable brace support suit that integrates motors at the joints, rechargeable batteries, an array of sensors, and a computer-based control system. Upper-body movements of the user are detected and used to initiate and maintain walking processes (Díaz et al., 2011).

The capacity of robots to deliver high-intensity and repeatable training make them potentially valuable tools to provide high-quality treatment at a lower cost and effort. These systems can also be used at home to allow patients to perform therapies independently, not replacing the therapist but supporting the therapy program. However, despite the attractiveness of robotic devices, clinical studies still show little evidence for the superior effectiveness of robotic therapy compared to current therapy practices, although robotics have been shown to reduce therapist effort, time, and costs (Díaz et al., 2011).

via Regaining the Ability to Walk | Stroke: Emergency Care and Rehabilitation

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[WEB SITE] Advances in robotics help patients with neurorecovery – Video

https://youtu.be/Qq9H8-fR23M

For the first time in over 14 months, 57-year-old paraplegic Greg Foti is feeling sensation in his legs.

“My mind is sending the signals down to my legs to walk, and actually I’m now getting the positive feedback to my brain saying, ‘yeah, we’re walking,’” Foti, a patient at Bacharach Institute for Rehabilitation, said.

These precious steps are thanks to a robot called the Lokomat. It is one of 13 new pieces of robotics at the Bacharach Institute for Rehabilitation’s Klinghoffer Neurorecovery Center. These machines are changing the future of physical and cognitive therapies.

“These machines can help people do the necessary exercises so many more times in a short period of time, so the brain is rewiring. They’re getting the benefit. Patients are enthusiastic. They’re engaged in the process,” said MJ Perskie, vice president of marketing and business development for Bacharach Institute for Rehabilitation.

Combined with conventional physical therapy, robotics are proving longer-lasting and farther-reaching results. Patients like Foti, who suffered from blood flowing to his spinal cord after a surgery, go through a carefully curated series of robotics, starting with a standing frame.

“From there they go to the Erigo where they’ll start to have their lower legs move and they can help that movement, as well as be in an upright, standing position,” said Jessica Cybulski, a physical therapist at Bacharach. “From there, they’ll go to the Lokomat where they have their lower extremities move for them, and again, assist in that walking motion.”

Eventually they move on their own with what’s called the Andago.

“The idea is the more I do this, the more I continue to improve the communication. And once I get past the communication blocks, there’s nothing to stop me from walking,” Foti said.

For 18-year-old Anthony Marquez, who injured his spine at a trampoline park, the interactive therapy with a Armeo robotic arm gives him extra motivation.

“When I get two stars it pushes me to get the third one, which is the highest you can get,” said Marquez.

A robot called Myro is like a life-size iPad where you have to match images. It’s all about cognitive rehabilitation and making sure it’s interactive and customized for each patient.

It’s helping patients recovering from stroke, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord or other neurological impairments.

“I mean, I couldn’t move my shoulders at first to now being able to move my arms. It’s kind of crazy,” said Marquez.

Seeing him like that gives his mother, Lori Weed, hope.

“It does, a lot of hope, seeing him moving things that we thought he never would move before,” she said.

And setting sights higher than they’d thought before.

 

via Advances in robotics help patients with neurorecovery | Video | NJTV News

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[ARTICLE] Advanced Robotic Therapy Integrated Centers (ARTIC): an international collaboration facilitating the application of rehabilitation technologies – Full Text

Abstract

Background

The application of rehabilitation robots has grown during the last decade. While meta-analyses have shown beneficial effects of robotic interventions for some patient groups, the evidence is less in others. We established the Advanced Robotic Therapy Integrated Centers (ARTIC) network with the goal of advancing the science and clinical practice of rehabilitation robotics. The investigators hope to exploit variations in practice to learn about current clinical application and outcomes. The aim of this paper is to introduce the ARTIC network to the clinical and research community, present the initial data set and its characteristics and compare the outcome data collected so far with data from prior studies.

Methods

ARTIC is a pragmatic observational study of clinical care. The database includes patients with various neurological and gait deficits who used the driven gait orthosis Lokomat® as part of their treatment. Patient characteristics, diagnosis-specific information, and indicators of impairment severity are collected. Core clinical assessments include the 10-Meter Walk Test and the Goal Attainment Scaling. Data from each Lokomat® training session are automatically collected.

Results

At time of analysis, the database contained data collected from 595 patients (cerebral palsy: n = 208; stroke: n = 129; spinal cord injury: n = 93; traumatic brain injury: n = 39; and various other diagnoses: n = 126). At onset, average walking speeds were slow. The training intensity increased from the first to the final therapy session and most patients achieved their goals.

Conclusions

The characteristics of the patients matched epidemiological data for the target populations. When patient characteristics differed from epidemiological data, this was mainly due to the selection criteria used to assess eligibility for Lokomat® training. While patients included in randomized controlled interventional trials have to fulfill many inclusion and exclusion criteria, the only selection criteria applying to patients in the ARTIC database are those required for use of the Lokomat®. We suggest that the ARTIC network offers an opportunity to investigate the clinical application and effectiveness of rehabilitation technologies for various diagnoses. Due to the standardization of assessments and the use of a common technology, this network could serve as a basis for researchers interested in specific interventional studies expanding beyond the Lokomat®.

Background

The number of technological devices that therapists can utilize to treat people with neurological impairments has grown substantially during the last decade. Alongside this growth in clinical use, research involving robotic therapy has grown rapidly. A search in Pubmed with the terms “robot” OR “robotic*” AND “rehabilitation” revealed 2225 hits (March 2017) with research markedly increasing after 2010. Despite this increase in research activity and clinical use, the effectiveness of robot-assisted interventions in neurorehabilitation is still in debate. While in some patient populations, for example adults with stroke, meta-analyses have shown that robotic interventions for the lower and upper extremity can be beneficial [12], current evidence is much less convincing in other patient groups, such as spinal cord injury (SCI), traumatic brain injury (TBI), multiple sclerosis (MS) and cerebral palsy (CP).

When comparing the effectiveness of robot-assisted gait training (RAGT) to conventional interventions of similar dosage in adult patients after SCI, it appears that neither intervention is superior [34]. In other populations, such as MS, a small number of pilot studies have been conducted, and a review [5] concluded that the evidence for the effectiveness remained inconclusive. In adult patients with TBI, to our knowledge, there is only one randomized controlled trial that investigated the effectiveness of RAGT [6]. While RAGT improved gait symmetry compared to manually assisted body-weight supported treadmill training, improvements in other gait parameters were not different between the interventions. In children with CP, the body of evidence is similarly small, as only two randomized trials were found [78]. To the authors’ knowledge, there are no randomized controlled trials in children with other diagnoses. Studies comparing effectiveness between different patient groups are lacking.

One important factor leading to the lack of conclusive research is the relatively small number of available centers and participating patients and consequently the small statistical power of attempted studies. Multicenter collaborations are needed to achieve adequate number of participants. Several of the limitations in the evidence of the application of RAGT arise from patient selection criteria and use of different, poorly described and/or low-dosed training protocols. For example, when systematically reviewing the literature in children, we found no paper describing a training protocol on how to apply a robot for rehabilitation of gait [9]. Most of the systematic reviews mentioned that it is extremely difficult to pool results from studies due to the large variability in treatment duration and frequency, contents of the training and inclusion criteria of the patients. For children with CP, an expert team was created to formulate goals, inclusion criteria, training parameters and recommendations on including RAGT in the clinical setting, to assist therapists who train children with CP with the Lokomat® (Hocoma AG, Volketswil, Switzerland) [9]. Such information could be used as a first step in defining training protocols, but this information is missing for most other patient groups.

While randomized controlled trials are usually considered the “gold standard” in building solid evidence in the field of medicine, it is often difficult for rehabilitation specialists working in the clinical environment to interpret the findings with respect to the population of patients they treat on a daily basis. Randomized controlled trials require a specialized team, a controlled setting and a strict selection of patients according to well defined inclusion and exclusion criteria. These criteria often select individuals most likely to benefit based on specific parameters and lack of co-morbidities. These narrow criteria may impact the ecological validity, as results only apply to a minority of patients. This was recently investigated by Dörenkamp et al. [10] who reported that the majority of patients in primary care (40% at the age of 50 years and at least two-thirds of the octogenarian population [11]) simultaneously suffered from multiple medical problems. Further, improvements in function might be less comparable to results described in randomized controlled trials and the treatment regimens used may not be applicable to patients with multiple comorbidities.

To overcome these issues, we established the Advanced Robotic Therapy Integrated Centers (ARTIC) network to collect data from patients using RAGT in a wide variety of clinical settings. ARTIC hopes to develop guidelines for usage as well as to answer scientific questions concerning the use of RAGT. While the ARTIC network includes a general patient population, other research networks focus on a specific disorder or diagnostic group (see, for example [1213]). ARTIC focuses on a common technological intervention – currently the driven gait orthosis Lokomat® – and aims to gather evidence for the efficient and effective use of robotic therapy. Variation in practice among ARTIC members together with collection of common data and outcome measurements will enable the group to draw strong, generalizable conclusions. Further goals include establishing standardized treatment protocols and increasing medical and governmental acceptance of robotic therapy. The aims of this paper are to introduce the ARTIC network to the clinical and research community, present initial data on the characteristics of included patients and compare these to those known from existing epidemiological data and interventional studies.[…]

 

Continue —> Advanced Robotic Therapy Integrated Centers (ARTIC): an international collaboration facilitating the application of rehabilitation technologies | Journal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation | Full Text

Fig. 1 Lokomat® system (of different generations) with (a) adult leg orthoses and (b) pediatric leg orthoses. Patients walk on a treadmill belt, are weight supported, and the exoskeleton device guides the legs through a physiological walking pattern

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[Abstract] What does best evidence tell us about robotic gait rehabilitation in stroke patients: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Highlights

  • Recovery of walking function is one of the main goals of patients after stroke.
  • RAGT may be considered a valuable tool in improving gait abnormalities.
  • The earlier the gait training starts, the better the motor recovery.

Abstract

Background

Studies about electromechanical-assisted devices proved the validity and effectiveness of these tools in gait rehabilitation, especially if used in association with conventional physiotherapy in stroke patients.

Objective

The aim of this study was to compare the effects of different robotic devices in improving post-stroke gait abnormalities.

Methods

A computerized literature research of articles was conducted in the databases MEDLINE, PEDro, COCHRANE, besides a search for the same items in the Library System of the University of Parma (Italy). We selected 13 randomized controlled trials, and the results were divided into sub-acute stroke patients and chronic stroke patients. We selected studies including at least one of the following test: 10-Meter Walking Test, 6-Minute Walk Test, Timed-Up-and-Go, 5-Meter Walk Test, and Functional Ambulation Categories.

Results

Stroke patients who received physiotherapy treatment in combination with robotic devices, such as Lokomat or Gait Trainer, were more likely to reach better results, compared to patients who receive conventional gait training alone. Moreover, electromechanical-assisted gait training in association with Functional Electrical Stimulations produced more benefits than the only robotic treatment (−0.80 [−1.14; −0.46], p > .05).

Conclusions

The evaluation of the results confirm that the use of robotics can positively affect the outcome of a gait rehabilitation in patients with stroke. The effects of different devices seems to be similar on the most commonly outcome evaluated by this review.

 

via What does best evidence tell us about robotic gait rehabilitation in stroke patients: A systematic review and meta-analysis – Journal of Clinical Neuroscience

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[ARTICLE] The role of virtual reality in improving motor performance as revealed by EEG: a randomized clinical trial – Full Text

Abstract

Background

Many studies have demonstrated the usefulness of repetitive task practice by using robotic-assisted gait training (RAGT) devices, including Lokomat, for the treatment of lower limb paresis. Virtual reality (VR) has proved to be a valuable tool to improve neurorehabilitation training. The aim of our pilot randomized clinical trial was to understand the neurophysiological basis of motor function recovery induced by the association between RAGT (by using Lokomat device) and VR (an animated avatar in a 2D VR) by studying electroencephalographic (EEG) oscillations.

Methods

Twenty-four patients suffering from a first unilateral ischemic stroke in the chronic phase were randomized into two groups. One group performed 40 sessions of Lokomat with VR (RAGT + VR), whereas the other group underwent Lokomat without VR (RAGT-VR). The outcomes (clinical, kinematic, and EEG) were measured before and after the robotic intervention.

Results

As compared to the RAGT-VR group, all the patients of the RAGT + VR group improved in the Rivermead Mobility Index and Tinetti Performance Oriented Mobility Assessment. Moreover, they showed stronger event-related spectral perturbations in the high-γ and β bands and larger fronto-central cortical activations in the affected hemisphere.

Conclusions

The robotic-based rehabilitation combined with VR in patients with chronic hemiparesis induced an improvement in gait and balance. EEG data suggest that the use of VR may entrain several brain areas (probably encompassing the mirror neuron system) involved in motor planning and learning, thus leading to an enhanced motor performance.

Background

Virtual reality (VR) is the simulation of a real environment generated by a computer software and experienced by the user through a human–machine interface [1]. This interface enables the patient to perceive the environment as real and 3D (i.e., the sense of presence), thus increasing patient’s engagement (i.e., embodiment) [2]. Hence, VR can be used to provide the patient with repetitive, task-specific training (as opposed to simply using a limb by chance) that are effective for motor learning functions [3, 4, 5, 6]. In fact, VR provides the patient with multisensory feedbacks that can potentiate the use-dependent plasticity processes within the sensory-motor cortex, thus promoting/enhancing functional motor recovery [7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14]. Furthermore, VR can increase patients’ motivation during rehabilitation by decreasing the perception of exertion [8], thus allowing patients to exercise more effortlessly and regularly [9].

It is possible to magnify the sense of presence by manipulating the characteristics of the VR, including screen size, duration of exposure, the realism of the presentation, and the use of animated avatar, i.e., a third-person view of the user that appears as a player in the VR [15]. About that, the use of an avatar may strengthen the use-dependent plastic changes within higher sensory-motor areas belonging to the mirror neuron system (MNS) [16, 17, 18]. In fact, the observation of an action, even simulated (on a screen, as in the case of VR), allows the recruitment of stored motor programs that would promote, in turn, movement execution recovery [19, 20]. These processes are expressed by wide changes in α and β oscillation magnitude at the electroencephalography (EEG) (including an α activity decrease and a β activity increase) across the brain areas putatively belonging to the MNS (including the inferior frontal gyrus, the lower part of the precentral gyrus, the rostral part of the inferior parietal lobule, and the temporal, occipital and parietal visual areas) [8, 9, 21, 22].

In the last years, motor function recovery has benefited from the use of robotic devices. In particular, robot-assisted gait training (RAGT) provides the patient with highly repeated movement execution, whose feedback, in turn, permits to boost the abovementioned use-dependent plasticity processes [23]. RAGT has been combined with VR to further improve gait in patients suffering from different neurologic diseases [24]. Nonetheless, the knowledge of the neurophysiologic substrate underpinning neurorobotic and VR interaction is still poor [25, 26]. Indeed, a better understanding of this interaction would allow physician to design more personalized rehabilitative approaches concerning the individual brain plasticity potential to be harnessed to gain functional recovery [27].

The relative suppression of the μ rhythm is considered as the main index of MNS activity [28]. Nonetheless, conjugating VR and neurorobotic could make brain dynamics more complex, because of many factors related to motor control and psychological aspects come into play, including intrinsic motivation, selective attention, goal setting, working memory, decision making, positive self-concept, and self-control. Altogether, these aspects may modify and extend the range of brain rhythms deriving from different cortical areas related to MNS activation by locomotion, including theta and gamma oscillations [29, 30, 31]. Specifically, theta activity has been related to the retrieval of stored motor memory traces, whereas the gamma may be linked to the conscious access to visual target representations [30, 31]. Such broadband involvement may be due to the recruitment of multiple brain pathways expressing both bottom-up (automatic recruitment of movement simulation) and top-down (task-driven) neural processes within the MNS implicated in locomotion recognition [32]. A recent work has shown that observed, executed, and imagined action representations are decoded from putative mirror neuron areas, including Broca’s area and ventral premotor cortex, which have a complex interplay with the traditional MNS areas generating the μ rhythm [33].

Therefore, we hypothesized that the combined use of VR and RAGT may induce a stronger and wider modification of the brain oscillations deriving from the putative MNS areas, thus augmenting locomotor function gain [34, 35]. The aim of our pilot randomized clinical trial was to understand the neurophysiological basis underpinning gait recovery induced by the observation of an animated avatar in a 2D VR while performing RAGT by studying the temporal patterns of broadband cortical activations.[…]

Continue —> The role of virtual reality in improving motor performance as revealed by EEG: a randomized clinical trial | Journal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation | Full Text

Fig. 5 Average changes at TPOST as compared to TPRE in scalp ERP projections relatively to the full gait cycle. The left and right hemispheres plots correspond to the affected and unaffected ones, respectively. ERS and ERD are masked in red and blue tones, respectively, whereas non-significant differences are in green (see Table 5)

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[ARTICLE] Hemorrhagic versus ischemic stroke: Who can best benefit from blended conventional physiotherapy with robotic-assisted gait therapy? – Full Text

Abstract

Background

Contrary to common belief of clinicians that hemorrhagic stroke survivors have better functional prognoses than ischemic, recent studies show that ischemic survivors could experience similar or even better functional improvements. However, the influence of stroke subtype on gait and posture outcomes following an intervention blending conventional physiotherapy with robotic-assisted gait therapy is missing.

Objective

This study compared gait and posture outcome measures between ambulatory hemorrhagic patients and ischemic patients, who received a similar 4 weeks’ intervention blending a conventional bottom-up physiotherapy approach and an exoskeleton top-down robotic-assisted gait training (RAGT) approach with Lokomat.

Methods

Forty adult hemiparetic stroke inpatient subjects were recruited: 20 hemorrhagic and 20 ischemic, matched by age, gender, side of hemisphere lesion, stroke severity, and locomotor impairments. Functional Ambulation Category, Postural Assessment Scale for Stroke, Tinetti Performance Oriented Mobility Assessment, 6 Minutes Walk Test, Timed Up and Go and 10-Meter Walk Test were performed before and after a 4-week long intervention. Functional gains were calculated for all tests.

Results

Hemorrhagic and ischemic subjects showed significant improvements in Functional Ambulation Category (P<0.001 and P = 0.008, respectively), Postural Assessment Scale for Stroke (P<0.001 and P = 0.003), 6 Minutes Walk Test (P = 0.003 and P = 0.015) and 10-Meter Walk Test (P = 0.001 and P = 0.024). Ischemic patients also showed significant improvements in Timed Up and Go. Significantly greater mean Functional Ambulation Category and Tinetti Performance Oriented Mobility Assessment gains were observed for hemorrhagic compared to ischemic, with large (dz = 0.81) and medium (dz = 0.66) effect sizes, respectively.

Conclusion

Overall, both groups exhibited quasi similar functional improvements and benefits from the same type, length and frequency of blended conventional physiotherapy and RAGT protocol. The use of intensive treatment plans blending top-down physiotherapy and bottom-up robotic approaches is promising for post-stroke rehabilitation.

Continue —>  Hemorrhagic versus ischemic stroke: Who can best benefit from blended conventional physiotherapy with robotic-assisted gait therapy?

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[ARTICLE] Immediate affective responses of gait training in neurological rehabilitation: A randomized crossover trial – Full Text HTML

Abstract

Objective: To examine the immediate effects of physical therapy and robotic-assisted gait training on affective responses of gait training in neurological rehabilitation.

Design: Randomized crossover trial with blinded observers.

Patients: Sixteen patients with neurological disorders (stroke, traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis).

Methods: All patients underwent 2 single treatment sessions: physical therapy and robotic-assisted gait training. Both before and after the treatment sessions, the self-report Mood Survey Scale was used to assess the effects of the treatment on distinct affective states. The subscales of the Mood Survey Scale were tested for pre–post changes and differences in effects between treatments, using non-parametric tests.

Results: Fourteen participants completed the study. Patients showed a significant increase in activation (r = 0.55), elation (r = 0.79), and calmness (r = 0.72), and a significant decrease in anger (r = 0.64) after robotic-assisted gait training compared with physical therapy.

Conclusion: Affective responses might be positively influenced by robotic-assisted gait training, which may help to overcome motivational problems during the rehabilitation process in neurological patients.

Introduction

Patients with neurological impairment are known to have reduced quality of life and increased risk for depressive symptoms, which may hinder their ability to perform daily rehabilitation programmes, such as physical therapy (PT) or robotic-assisted gait training (RAGT) (1). During the continuum of rehabilitation it is necessary to consider factors such as choice and enjoyment in order to determine specifically how an individual would participate in rehabilitation programmes. The inclusion of participation scales is recommended when assessing the outcome of rehabilitation programmes (2). According to Self-Determination Theory (3), positive affective responses (e.g. activation, elation, or calmness) are connected with high intrinsic motivation and are an important regulation process in human behaviour. Therefore affective responses to the treatment sessions, as defined by Ekkekakis & Petruzello (4), might be important predictors of motivation, adoption, and maintenance of treatment regimes in the rehabilitation process.

Fatigue is a common and distressing complaint among people with neurological impairment (5). Patients often are afraid that engagement in exercise may increase fatigue (6). In patients with traumatic brain injury, “lack of energy” was rated as 1 of the top 5 problems for participation (7). Therefore it is important to emphasize that it is more likely that a higher level of energy will be achieved after exercise (8, 9). Although not yet a widely recognized determinant of exercise behaviour, affective valence is viewed in psychology and behavioural economics as one of the major factors in human decision-making (10). Findings from exercise psychology have demonstrated that the affective components of pleasure and activation might be crucial for bridging the intention–behaviour gap at the beginning of engagement in exercise (10). Regular participation in physical activity, in the long-term, may be mediated by an individual’s belief in the exercise–psychological wellbeing association. It may also lead to anti-depressive effects (11). Both PT and RAGT can be considered as forms of physical activity; therefore one might speculate that the effects mentioned above could be transferred to neurological patients. While increases in energy and mood in response to a single bout of moderate intensity exercise have been shown in healthy people and several risk-groups (6, 8, 9), no such study has been carried out involving neurological patients.

To our knowledge, only 2 studies concerning RAGT and psychological effects have been published. Koenig et al. (12) described a method to observe mental engagement during RAGT. Recently, Calabro et al. (13) reported positive long-term effects of RAGT on mood and coping strategies in a case study. To our knowledge, apart from these studies, affective responses have not been researched in PT or RAGT.

Thus, the aim of this study was to determine, for patients with neurological impairment: (i) whether a single session of PT and RAGT has immediate effects on affective responses (e.g. activation, elation, or calmness) and; (ii) whether possible affective responses differ between PT and RAGT.

Continue —> Journal of Rehabilitation Medicine – Immediate affective responses of gait training in neurological rehabilitation: A randomized crossover trial – HTML

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[ARTICLE] Feasibility of using Lokomat combined with functional electrical stimulation for the rehabilitation of foot drop. – Full Text PDF

Abstract

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.

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[Abstract] Robotic gait rehabilitation and substitution devices in neurological disorders: where are we now? – Springer

Abstract

Gait abnormalities following neurological disorders are often disabling, negatively affecting patients’ quality of life. Therefore, regaining of walking is considered one of the primary objectives of the rehabilitation process. To overcome problems related to conventional physical therapy, in the last years there has been an intense technological development of robotic devices, and robotic rehabilitation has proved to play a major role in improving one’s ability to walk.

The robotic rehabilitation systems can be classified into stationary and overground walking systems, and several studies have demonstrated their usefulness in patients after severe acquired brain injury, spinal cord injury and other neurological diseases, including Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis and cerebral palsy.

In this review, we want to highlight which are the most widely used devices today for gait neurological rehabilitation, focusing on their functioning, effectiveness and challenges.

Novel and promising rehabilitation tools, including the use of virtual reality, are also discussed.

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Source: Robotic gait rehabilitation and substitution devices in neurological disorders: where are we now? – Online First – Springer

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