Effect of using of a lower-extremity exoskeleton on disability of people with multiple sclerosis

Chris McGibbon*, Andrew Sexton, Pearl Gryfe, Tilak Dutta, Arun Jayaraman, Susan Deems-Dluhy, Alison Novak, Eric Fabara, Catherine Adans-Dester, Paolo Bonato

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: Although ongoing exercise is known to reduce disability in people with multiple sclerosis (MS), participation in lower-extremity exercise programs can be limited by their existing mobility impairments. Lower-extremity exoskeletons could address this problem by facilitating home and community locomotion and enhancing exercise capability but little data is available on the potential of this technology for reducing disability of people with MS. Methods: We evaluated the Keeogo™ exoskeleton for people with MS using an open-label randomised cross-over design. The trial design allowed us to quantify rehabilitation effects (tested without device) and training effects (tested with device) using functional outcomes: 6-minute walk test (6MWT), timed stair test (TST), and timed up-and-go (TUG). Baseline and post-study self-report instruments included Medical Outcomes Survey Short Form-36 (SF36), MS Walking Scale (MSWS), and others. Amount of home use was documented by daily activity log. Partial correlation analysis was used to explore the relationships between changes in functional outcomes and self-report disability, controlling for amount of home use of the device. Results: Twenty-nine participants with MS completed the trial. Change scores for MSWS, SF36 physical function and SF36 emotional well-being correlated positively with changes in 6MWT which was explained by amount of home use. Conclusions: The benefits in physical functioning and emotional well-being from using the exoskeleton at home were linked to amount of device usage. Low-profile robotic exoskeletons could be used to deliver facilitated exercise while assisting with locomotor activities of daily living, such as walking and stair climbing in the home and community environment.IMPLICATIONS FOR REHABILITATION Exoskeletons for home use may have the potential to benefit people with MS in terms of physical functioning and emotional well-being. The benefits in physical functioning and emotional well-being appeared to be linked to amount of usage. Exoskeletons might be useful for delivering facilitated exercise while assisting with walking and stair climbing in the home.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalDisability and Rehabilitation: Assistive Technology
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2021

Keywords

  • Health-related quality of life
  • ambulatory aid
  • mobility assist
  • neurological disorder
  • powered exoskeleton

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Rehabilitation
  • Speech and Hearing

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