Who May Have Durable Benefit From Robotic Gait Training?
A 2-Year Follow-Up Randomized Controlled Trial in Patients With Subacute Stroke
Background and Purpose—Robotic-assisted walking training after stroke aims to enhance the odd of regaining independent gait. Recent studies have suggested that this approach is more effective than conventional therapy alone only in severely affected patients. We determined whether these results persist at long-term follow-up.
Methods—Forty-eight nonambulant participants after subacute stroke were stratified by motricity index into high (<29) and low (≥29) motor impairment groups. Each arm was randomized to a robotic or control group at a mean of 20 days after stroke. All patients underwent 2 therapy sessions per day, 5 days per week, for 3 months. Robotic group subjects underwent 20 sessions of robotic-assisted gait training in the first 4 weeks of inpatient therapy and abbreviated conventional therapy, whereas control group patients received only conventional gait training. The primary outcome was functional ambulation category, and secondary measures were the Rivermead Mobility Index and Barthel Index scores. The scales were administered before and after the inpatient stay and 2 years after discharge.
Results—At follow-up, as at discharge, the low motricity robotic group improved more than the control group counterpart with regard to functional ambulation category (4.7±0.5 versus 3.1±1.5, P=0.002), Barthel Index (76.9±11.5 versus 64.7±14.0, P=0.024), and Rivermead Mobility Index (11.8±3.5 versus 7.0±3.6, P=0.010), whereas conventional and robotic therapies were equally effective in the high motricity groups.
Conclusions—The higher efficacy of the combination of robotic therapy and conventional therapy versus conventional therapy alone that was observed at discharge only in patients with greater motor impairments was sustained after 2 years.
- Received September 2, 2011.
- Revision received November 4, 2011.
- Accepted November 10, 2011.
- © 2011 American Heart Association, Inc.