Ankle passive and active movement training in children with acute brain injury using a wearable robot

Kai Chen, Bo Xiong, Yupeng Ren, Assaf Y. Dvorkin, Deborah Gaebler-Spira, Charles E. Sisung, Li Qun Zhang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Objective: To evaluate the feasibility and effectiveness of a wearable robotic device in guiding isometric torque generation and passive-active movement training for ankle motor recovery in children with acute brain injury. Participants/setting: Ten inpatient children with acute brain injury being treated in a rehabilitation hospital. Design: Daily robot-guided ankle passive-active movement therapy for 15 sessions, including isometric torque generation under real-time feedback, stretching, and active movement training with motivating games using a wearable ankle rehabilitation robot. Main measures: Ankle biomechanical improvements induced by each training session including ankle range of motion (ROM), muscle strength, and clinical (Fugl-Meyer Lower-Extremity (FMLE), Pediatric Balance Scale (PBS)) and biomechanical (ankle ROM and muscle strength) outcomes over 15 training sessions. Results: As training progressed, improvements in biomechanical performance measures followed logarithmic curves. Each training session increased median dorsiflexion active range of motion (AROM) 2.73° (standard deviation (SD) 1.14), dorsiflexion strength 0.87 Nm (SD 0.90), and plantarflexion strength 0.60 Nm (SD 1.19). After 15 training sessions the median FMLE score had increased from 14.0 (SD 10.11) to 23.0 (SD 11.4), PBS had increased from 33.0 (SD 19.99) to 50.0 (SD 23.13) (p < 0.05), median dorsiflexion and plantarflexion strength had improved from 0.21 Nm (SD 4.45) to 4.0 Nm (SD 7.63) and 8.33 Nm (SD 10.18) to 18.45 Nm (SD 14.41), respectively, median dorsiflexion AROM had improved from -10.45° (SD 12.01) to 11.87° (SD 20.69), and median dorsiflexion PROM increased from 20.0° (SD 9.04) to 25.0° (SD 8.03). Conclusion: Isometric torque generation with real-time feedback, stretching and active movement training helped promote neuroplasticity and improve motor performance in children with acute brain injury.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)30-36
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Rehabilitation Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2018


  • Acute-phase
  • Rehabilitation
  • Robotics
  • Traumatic brain injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Rehabilitation


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