Soft Robotic Exosuits for Targeted Gait Rehabilitation After Stroke: A Case Study
This case study is the first comparison study examining the therapeutic effects of exosuit-augmented gait training versus conventional gait training with an individual post-stroke. The study participant, a 58 year-old male with chronic (54 mo) left-sided hemiparesis resulting from stroke, participated in two bouts of gait-training intervention. Each intervention consisted of six sessions of training provided over a 2-week period, with a 7-week washout period separating the two bouts. For both interventions, a physical therapist provided progressive, task specific, high intensity gait training with an emphasis on walking speed. Outcomes were assessed via the 10-Meter Walk Test, 6-Minute Walk Test, and biomechanical analyses performed without the exosuit before and after each intervention. Exosuit-augmented gait training produced clinically meaningful changes in fast walking speed and walking distance, as well as increased paretic ankle angle at push-off, stride length, paretic ankle plantarflexion moment, and paretic propulsion. Alternately, training without the exosuit resulted in only modest increases in fast walking speed and walking distance, and failed to demonstrate changes in ankle angle at push-off, stride length, and ankle plantarflexion moment – and produced a reduction in forward propulsion. The authors conclude that these these results demonstrate that exosuit-augmented gait training uniquely retrains a propulsion-based walking strategy that is not observed after gait training without an exosuit.
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