Effects of a wearable exoskeleton stride management assist system (SMA®) on spatiotemporal gait characteristics in individuals after stroke: a randomized controlled trial

Robots offer an alternative, potentially advantageous method of providing repetitive, high-dosage, and high-intensity training to address the gait impairments caused by stroke. This study compared the effects of the Stride Management Assist (SMA®) System with functional task specific training (FTST) on spatiotemporal gait parameters in stroke survivors. This was achieved through a single blinded RCT including 50 participants who were randomly assigned to FTST or SMA. Subjects in both groups received training 3 times per week for 6–8 weeks for a maximum of 18 training sessions. The GAITRite® system was used to collect data on subjects’ spatiotemporal gait characteristics before training (baseline), at mid-training, post-training, and at a 3-month follow-up. After training, significant improvements in gait parameters were observed in both training groups compared to baseline, including an increase in velocity and cadence, a decrease in swing time on the impaired side, a decrease in double support time, an increase in stride length on impaired and non-impaired sides, and an increase in step length on impaired and non-impaired sides. No significant differences were observed between training groups; except for SMA group, step length on the impaired side increased significantly during self-selected walking speed trials and spatial asymmetry decreased significantly during fast-velocity walking trials.

SMA and FTST interventions provided similar, significant improvements in spatiotemporal gait parameters; however, the SMA group showed additional improvements across more parameters at various time points. These results indicate that the SMA® device could be a useful therapeutic tool to improve spatiotemporal parameters and contribute to improved functional mobility in stroke survivors. Further research is needed to determine the feasibility of using this device in a home setting vs a clinic setting, and whether such home use provides continued benefits.

Rehabilitation of Running Biomechanics

Join Ari Kaplan and Doug Adams in this second short online course to explore how to develop a comprehensive rehabilitation programme to tackle common biomechanical issues seen in runners.