Author(s): Hesse S, Uhlenbrock D, Werner C, Bardeleben A
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Abstract OBJECTIVE: To construct an advanced mechanized gait trainer to enable patients the repetitive practice of a gaitlike movement without overstraining therapists. DEVICE: Prototype gait trainer that simulates the phases of gait (by generating a ratio of 40\% to 60\% between swing and stance phases), supports the subjects according to their ability (lifts the foot during swing phase), and controls the center of mass in the vertical and horizontal directions. PATIENTS: Two nonambulatory, hemiparetic patients who regained their walking ability after 4 weeks of daily training on the gait trainer, a 55-year-old woman and a 62-year-old man, both of whom had a first-time ischemic stroke. INTERVENTION: Four weeks of training, five times a week, each session 20 minutes long. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Functional ambulation category (FAC, levels 0-5) to assess gait ability and ground level walking velocity. Rivermead motor assessment score (RMAS, 0-13) to assess gross motor function. RESULTS: Patient 1: At the end of treatment, she was able to walk independently on level ground with use of a walking stick. Her walking velocity had improved from .29m/sec to .59m/sec. Her RMAS score increased from 4 to 10, meaning she could walk at least 40 meters outside, pick up objects from floor, and climb stairs independently. Patient 2: At end of 4-week training, he could walk independently on even surfaces (FAC level 4), using an ankle-foot orthosis and a walking stick. His walking velocity improved from .14m/sec to .63m/sec. His RMAS increased from 3 to 10. CONCLUSION: The gait trainer enabled severely affected patients the repetitive practice of a gaitlike movement. Future studies may elucidate its value in gait rehabilitation of nonambulatory subjects.
This article was published in Arch Phys Med Rehabil
and referenced in Journal of Novel Physiotherapies