Background. Locomotor training (LT) to improve walking ability in people poststroke can be accomplished with therapist assistance as needed to promote continuous stepping. Various robotic devices also have been developed that can guide the lower limbs through a kinematically consistent gait pattern. It is unclear whether LT with either therapist or robotic assistance could improve kinematic coordination patterns during walking. Objective. The purpose of this study was to determine whether LT with physical assistance as needed was superior to guided, symmetrical, robotic-assisted LT for improving kinematic coordination during walking poststroke. Design. This study was a randomized clinical trial. Methods. Nineteen people with chronic stroke (>6 months' duration) participating in a larger randomized control trial comparing therapist- versus robotic-assisted LT were recruited. Prior to and following 4 weeks of LT, gait analysis was performed at each participant's self-selected speed during overground walking. Kinematic coordination was defined as the consistency of intralimb hip and knee angular trajectories over repeated gait cycles and was compared before and after treatment for each group. Results. Locomotor training with therapist assistance resulted in significant improvements in the consistency of intralimb movements of the impaired limb. Providing consistent kinematic assistance during robotic-assisted LT did not result in improvements in intralimb consistency. Only minimal changes in discrete kinematics were observed in either group. Limitations. The limitations included a relatively small sample size and a lack of quantification regarding the extent of movement consistency during training sessions for both groups. Conclusions. Coordination of intralimb kinematics appears to improve in response to LT with therapist assistance as needed. Fixed assistance, as provided by this form of robotic guidance during LT, however, did not alter intralimb coordination.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation