Background:

After spinal cord injury (SCI), inpatient rehabilitation begins and continues through outpatient therapy. Overground exoskeleton gait training (OEGT) has been shown to be feasible in both settings, yet its use as an intervention across the continuum has not yet been reported.

Objectives:

This study describes OEGT for patients with SCI across the continuum and its effects on clinical outcomes.

Methods:

Medical records of patients with SCI who completed at least one OEGT session during inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation from 2018 to 2021 were retrospectively reviewed. Demographic data, Walking Index for Spinal Cord Injury-II (WISCI-II) scores, and OEGT session details (frequency, “walk” time, “up” time, and step count) were extracted.

Results:

Eighteen patients [male (83%), White (61%), aged 37.4 ± 15 years, with tetraplegia (50%), American Spinal Injury Association Impairment Scale A (28%), B (22%), C (39%), D (11%)] completed OEGT sessions (motor complete, 18.2 ± 10.3; motor incomplete, 16.7 ± 7.7) over approximately 18 weeks (motor complete, 15.1 ± 6.4; motor incomplete, 19.0 ± 8.2). Patients demonstrated improved OEGT session tolerance on device metrics including “walk” time (motor complete, 7:51 ± 4:42 to 24:50 ± 9:35 minutes; motor incomplete, 12:16 ± 6:01 to 20:01 ± 08:05 minutes), “up” time (motor complete, 16:03 ± 7:41 to 29:49 ± 12:44 minutes; motor incomplete, 16:38 ± 4:51 to 23:06 ± 08:50 minutes), and step count (motor complete, 340 ± 295.9 to 840.2 ± 379.4; motor incomplete, 372.3 ± 225.2 to 713.2 ± 272). Across therapy settings, patients with motor complete SCI experienced improvement in WISCI-II scores from 0 ± 0 at inpatient admission to 3 ± 4.6 by outpatient discharge, whereas the motor incomplete group demonstrated a change of 0.2 ± 0.4 to 9.0 ± 6.4.

Conclusion:

Patients completed OEGT across the therapy continuum. Patients with motor incomplete SCI experienced clinically meaningful improvements in walking function.

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