Active robotic training improves locomotor function in a stroke survivor
1 Sensory Motor Performance Program, Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, Suite 1407, 345 E Superior Street, Chicago, 60611, IL, USA
2 Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, IL, USA
3 Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor, MI, USA
Journal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation 2012, 9:57 doi:10.1186/1743-0003-9-57Published: 20 August 2012
Clinical outcomes after robotic training are often not superior to conventional therapy. One key factor responsible for this is the use of control strategies that provide substantial guidance. This strategy not only leads to a reduction in volitional physical effort, but also interferes with motor relearning.
We tested the feasibility of a novel training approach (active robotic training) using a powered gait orthosis (Lokomat) in mitigating post-stroke gait impairments of a 52-year-old male stroke survivor. This gait training paradigm combined patient-cooperative robot-aided walking with a target-tracking task. The training lasted for 4-weeks (12 visits, 3 × per week). The subject’s neuromotor performance and recovery were evaluated using biomechanical, neuromuscular and clinical measures recorded at various time-points (pre-training, post-training, and 6-weeks after training).
Active robotic training resulted in considerable increase in target-tracking accuracy and reduction in the kinematic variability of ankle trajectory during robot-aided treadmill walking. These improvements also transferred to overground walking as characterized by larger propulsive forces and more symmetric ground reaction forces (GRFs). Training also resulted in improvements in muscle coordination, which resembled patterns observed in healthy controls. These changes were accompanied by a reduction in motor cortical excitability (MCE) of the vastus medialis, medial hamstrings, and gluteus medius muscles during treadmill walking. Importantly, active robotic training resulted in substantial improvements in several standard clinical and functional parameters. These improvements persisted during the follow-up evaluation at 6 weeks.
The results indicate that active robotic training appears to be a promising way of facilitating gait and physical function in moderately impaired stroke survivors.