Recovery and compensation after robotic assisted gait training in chronic stroke survivors

Background: Gait re-education is a primary rehabilitation goal after stroke. In the last decades, robots with different mechanical structures have been extensively used in the clinical practice for gait training of stroke survivors. However, the effectiveness of robotic training is still controversial, especially for chronic subjects. In this study, we investigated the short-term effects of gait training assisted by an endpoint robot in a population of chronic stroke survivors.

Methods: Subjects were evaluated before and after training with clinical scales and instrumented gait analysis. Our primary outcome indicator was the walking speed. Next, we investigated the changes in kinetic and kinematic gait patterns as well as the intersegmental coordination at the level of the lower limbs.

Results: Most subjects improved their speed in over-ground walking, by modifying the temporal more than the spatial gait parameters. These changes led to an improvement in the ankle power for both sides and to a slight reduction of the inclination of the pelvis during the swing phase, mainly due to a decreased knee flexion and an increased hip extension on the unimpaired leg.

Conclusions: These results indicate that the proposed training induced mainly a functional change rather than an improvement of the quality of gait.Implication for Rehabilitation

Gait re-education is a primary goal in stroke rehabilitation.

Nowadays several robotic devices for gait rehabilitation are used in the clinical practice, but their effectiveness is controversial, especially for chronic survivors.

After a 20-session training with an endpoint robot the chronic stroke survivors showed an improvement in overground gait speed.

The increased gait speed was mainly due to functional changes of the temporal parameters and of the kinetic variables at the level of both ankle joints, as well as to a reduction of compensatory strategies observable in the unimpaired side.

Gait re-education is a primary goal in stroke rehabilitation.

Nowadays several robotic devices for gait rehabilitation are used in the clinical practice, but their effectiveness is controversial, especially for chronic survivors.

After a 20-session training with an endpoint robot the chronic stroke survivors showed an improvement in overground gait speed.

The increased gait speed was mainly due to functional changes of the temporal parameters and of the kinetic variables at the level of both ankle joints, as well as to a reduction of compensatory strategies observable in the unimpaired side.