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      Pilot study of Lokomat versus manual-assisted treadmill training for locomotor recovery post-stroke

      1 , 2 , 3 ,
      Journal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation
      BioMed Central

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          While manually-assisted body-weight supported treadmill training (BWSTT) has revealed improved locomotor function in persons with post-stroke hemiparesis, outcomes are inconsistent and it is very labor intensive. Thus an alternate treatment approach is desirable. Objectives of this pilot study were to: 1) compare the efficacy of body-weight supported treadmill training (BWSTT) combined with the Lokomat robotic gait orthosis versus manually-assisted BWSTT for locomotor training post-stroke, and 2) assess effects of fast versus slow treadmill training speed.


          Sixteen volunteers with chronic hemiparetic gait (0.62 ± 0.30 m/s) post-stroke were randomly allocated to Lokomat (n = 8) or manual-BWSTT (n = 8) 3×/wk for 4 weeks. Groups were also stratified by fast (mean 0.92 ± 0.15 m/s) or slow (0.58 ± 0.12 m/s) training speeds. The primary outcomes were self-selected overground walking speed and paretic step length ratio. Secondary outcomes included: fast overground walking speed, 6-minute walk test, and a battery of clinical measures.


          No significant differences in primary outcomes were revealed between Lokomat and manual groups as a result of training. However, within the Lokomat group, self-selected walk speed, paretic step length ratio, and four of the six secondary measures improved ( p = 0.04–0.05, effect sizes = 0.19–0.60). Within the manual group, only balance scores improved ( p = 0.02, effect size = 0.57). Group differences between fast and slow training groups were not revealed ( p ≥ 0.28).


          Results suggest that Lokomat training may have advantages over manual-BWSTT following a modest intervention dose in chronic hemiparetic persons and further, that our training speeds produce similar gait improvements. Suggestions for a larger randomized controlled trial with optimal study parameters are provided.

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          Most cited references41

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          The Balance Scale: reliability assessment with elderly residents and patients with an acute stroke.

          The objective of this study was to assess the reliability of the Balance Scale. Subjects were chosen from a larger group of 113 elderly residents and 70 stroke patients participating in a psychometric study. Elderly residents were examined at baseline, and at 3, 6 and 9 months, and the stroke patients were evaluated at 2, 4, 6 and 12 weeks post onset. The Cronbach's alphas at each evaluation were greater than 0.83 and 0.97 for the elderly residents and stroke patients respectively, showing strong internal consistency. To assess inter-rater reliability, therapists treating 35 stroke patients were asked to administer the Balance Scale within 24 hours of the independent evaluator. Similarly, caregivers at the Residence were asked to test the elderly residents within one week of the independent evaluator. To assess intra-rater reliability, 18 residents and 6 stroke patients were assessed one week apart by the same rater. The agreement between raters was excellent (ICC = 0.98) as was the consistency within the same rater at two points in time (ICC = 0.97). The results support the use of the Balance Scale in these groups.
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            Reliability of the Fugl-Meyer assessment of sensorimotor recovery following cerebrovascular accident.

            This study establishes intratester reliability for all components of physical performance and intertester reliability for the total scores of upper and lower extremity motor performance in a cumulative numerical scoring system devised by Fugl-Meyer et al. Intertester reliability was found to be high for the total scores of upper and lower extremity motor performance. All intratester and intertester reliability coefficients were high and statistically significant. Establishing the reliability of the Fugl-Meyer method of assessing recovery of function following cerebrovascular accident has increased the usefulness of this method for clinical assessment and as a tool for the comparative analysis of the effectiveness of various therapeutic interventions.
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              Contributions of the individual ankle plantar flexors to support, forward progression and swing initiation during walking.

              Walking is a motor task requiring coordination of many muscles. Previous biomechanical studies, based primarily on analyses of the net ankle moment during stance, have concluded different functional roles for the plantar flexors. We hypothesize that some of the disparities in interpretation arise because of the effects of the uniarticular and biarticular muscles that comprise the plantar flexor group have not been separated. Furthermore, we believe that an accurate determination of muscle function requires quantification of the contributions of individual plantar flexor muscles to the energetics of individual body segments. In this study, we examined the individual contributions of the ankle plantar flexors (gastrocnemius (GAS); soleus (SOL)) to the body segment energetics using a musculoskeletal model and optimization framework to generate a forward dynamics simulation of normal walking at 1.5 m/s. At any instant in the gait cycle, the contribution of a muscle to support and forward progression was defined by its contribution to trunk vertical and horizontal acceleration, respectively, and its contribution to swing initiation by the mechanical energy it delivers to the leg in pre-swing (i.e., double-leg stance prior to toe-off). GAS and SOL were both found to provide trunk support during single-leg stance and pre-swing. In early single-leg stance, undergoing eccentric and isometric activity, they accelerate the trunk vertically but decelerate forward trunk progression. In mid single-leg stance, while isometric, GAS delivers energy to the leg while SOL decelerates it, and SOL delivers energy to the trunk while GAS decelerates it. In late single-leg stance through pre-swing, though GAS and SOL both undergo concentric activity and accelerate the trunk forward while decelerating the downward motion of the trunk (i.e., providing forward progression and support), they execute different energetic functions. The energy produced from SOL accelerates the trunk forward, whereas GAS delivers almost all its energy to accelerate the leg to initiate swing. Although GAS and SOL maintain or accelerate forward motion in mid single-leg stance through pre-swing, other muscles acting at the beginning of stance contribute comparably to forward progression. In summary, throughout single-leg stance both SOL and GAS provide vertical support, in mid single-leg stance SOL and GAS have opposite energetic effects on the leg and trunk to ensure support and forward progression of both the leg and trunk, and in pre-swing only GAS contributes to swing initiation.

                Author and article information

                J Neuroeng Rehabil
                Journal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation
                BioMed Central
                12 June 2009
                : 6
                : 18
                [1 ]Department of Radiology and Biomedical Imaging, University of California, San Francisco, California, USA
                [2 ]Brain Rehabilitation Research Center, Malcolm Randall VA Medical Center, Gainesville, Florida, USA
                [3 ]Department of Physical Therapy, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida, USA
                Copyright © 2009 Westlake and Patten; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

                This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

                : 4 December 2008
                : 12 June 2009



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