Quality of Life and Mental Health Improvements

An unfortunate reality after spinal cord injury is dependence on a wheelchair for mobility.1 A lifetime of wheelchair use however is associated with a sedentary lifestyle, a decrease in social participation as well as reduced Quality of Life (QoL). Dr. Van Nes and collogues believe that exoskeleton assisted walking in this population contributes to a reduction of secondary health complications as well as an improvement in QoL. The researchers who have published multiple exoskeleton related studies looked into potential effects of short-term training with the ReWalk Personal Exoskeleton on QoL.  21 individuals with chronic SCI completed 24 training sessions within 8 weeks. Despite the short training period patients significantly improved on  the SF-36ww subdomains bodily pain, social functioning, mental health, and general health perception.  

Even in patients with chronic motor complete SCI and a relatively high level of QoL at baseline, a short-term exoskeleton training improved their QoL, pain and satisfaction with bladder management


In the current study, a significant increase in SF-36ww sum score indicates an improvement of QoL after a short-term training period of eight weeks exoskeleton training in chronic complete SCI patients. Four of the eight SF-36ww subdomains significantly improved: bodily pain, social functioning, mental health and general health perception. In addition, improved satisfaction with bladder management was found. There was no improvement in satisfaction with bowel management, lower extremity pROM or spasticity.


  1. Macias CA, Rosengart MR, Puyana J-C, Linde-Zwrible WT, Smith W, Peitzman AB, et al. The effects of trauma center care, admission volume, and surgical volume on paralysis following
    traumatic spinal cord injury NIH Public Access Author Manuscript. Ann Surg 2009;249:10–17
  2. Anke W, Stenehjem AG, E A, Kvalvik Stanghelle J. Pain and life quality within 2 years of spinal cord injury. Paraplegia 1995;33: 555–559.
  3. Miller LE, Zimmermann AK, Herbert WG. Clinical effectiveness and safety of powered exoskeleton-assisted walking in patients with spinal cord injury: systematic review with meta- analysis. Med Dev Evid Res 2016: 455–466.
  4. Putzke JD, Richards JS, Hicken BL, DeVivo MJ. Predictors of life satisfaction: a spinal cord injury cohort study. Arch Phys Med Rehab 2002;83:555–561.
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