Background: Loss of legged mobility due to spinal cord injury (SCI) is associated with multiple physiological and psychological impacts. Powered exoskeletons offer the possibility of regained mobility and reversal or prevention of the secondary effects associated with immobility. Objective: This study was conducted to evaluate mobility outcomes for individuals with SCI after 5 gait-training sessions with a powered exoskeleton, with a primary goal of characterizing the ease of learning and usability of the system. Methods: Sixteen subjects with SCI were enrolled in a pilot clinical trial at Shepherd Center, Atlanta, Georgia, with injury levels ranging from C5 complete to L1 incomplete. An investigational Indego exoskeleton research kit was evaluated for ease of use and efficacy in providing legged mobility. Outcome measures of the study included the 10-meter walk test (10MWT) and the 6-minute walk test (6MWT) as well as measures of independence including donning and doffing times and the ability to walk on various surfaces. Results: At the end of 5 sessions (1.5 hours per session), average walking speed was 0.22 m/s for persons with C5-6 motor complete tetraplegia, 0.26 m/s for T1-8 motor complete paraplegia, and 0.45 m/s for T9-L1 paraplegia. Distances covered in 6 minutes averaged 64 meters for those with C5-6, 74 meters for T1-8, and 121 meters for T9-L1. Additionally, all participants were able to walk on both indoor and outdoor surfaces. Conclusions: Results after only 5 sessions suggest that persons with tetraplegia and paraplegia learn to use the Indego exoskeleton quickly and can manage a variety of surfaces. Walking speeds and distances achieved also indicate that some individuals with paraplegia can quickly become limited community ambulators using this system.
Mobility Outcomes Following Five Training Sessions with a Powered Exoskeleton
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Clare Hartigan, Casey Kandilakis, Skyler Dalley, Mike Clausen, Edgar Wilson, Scott Morrison, Steven Etheridge, Ryan Farris; Mobility Outcomes Following Five Training Sessions with a Powered Exoskeleton. Top Spinal Cord Inj Rehabil 1 March 2015; 21 (2): 93–99. doi: https://doi.org/10.1310/sci2102-93
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