Objective: To determine whether cable-driven robotic resistance treadmill training can improve locomotor function in humans with incomplete spinal cord injury (SCI). Design: Repeated assessment of the same patients with crossover design. Setting: Research units of rehabilitation hospitals in Chicago. Participants: Patients with chronic incomplete SCI (N=10) were recruited to participate in this study. Interventions: Subjects were randomly assigned to 1 of 2 groups. One group received 4 weeks of assistance training followed by 4 weeks of resistance training, while the other group received 4 weeks of resistance training followed by 4 weeks of assistance training. Locomotor training was provided by using a cable-driven robotic locomotor training system, which is highly backdrivable and compliant, allowing patients the freedom to voluntarily move their legs in a natural gait pattern during body weight supported treadmill training (BWSTT), while providing controlled assistance/resistance forces to the leg during the swing phase of gait. Main Outcome Measures: Primary outcome measures were evaluated for each participant before training and after 4 and 8 weeks of training. Primary measures were self-selected and fast overground walking velocity and 6-minute walking distance. Secondary measures included clinical assessments of balance, muscle tone, and strength. Results: A significant improvement in walking speed and balance in humans with SCI was observed after robotic treadmill training using the cable-driven robotic locomotor trainer. There was no significant difference in walking functional gains after resistance versus assistance training, although resistance training was more effective for higher functioning patients. Conclusions: Cable-driven robotic resistance training may be used as an adjunct to BWSTT for improving overground walking function in humans with incomplete SCI, particularly for those patients with relatively high function.
- Spinal cord injuries
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation