Effects of training with the ReWalk exoskeleton on quality of life in incomplete spinal cord injury: a single case study
This is a single case study investigating to what extent the quality of life (QoL) of patients with spinal cord injury can be influenced by training with an exoskeleton. One patient (male, 22 years), initially unable to walk independently after T11 traumatic spinal cord injury (ASIA Impairment Scale C), was recruited for this study 1 year after injury. The progress of his first 6 months of ReWalk training was documented and as primary outcome measure, the QoL was measured with SF-36 questionnaire. Secondary outcome measures were ASIA scale, Berg-Balance-Scale, and Dynamic Gait Index. After the 6-month training period, this patient reported increased scores in 6 out of 8 areas on the SF-36 (physical functioning, physical role function, physical pain, general health, vitality, and physical well-being). The ASIA motor score improved from segment L2 to L3. Sensory functions remained unchanged. The patient partly regained control for bowel and bladder functions. The Dynamic Gait Index improved from 0 to 18/21, and the Berg Balance Scale from 7 to 34/44. At the end of the study period the patient was able to walk independently supervised by one person. Quality of life, mobility, risk of falling, motor skills, and control of bladder and bowel functions were all improved. Overall, this demonstrated a positive effect of robot-assisted gait training on various areas of the patient’s life.
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