Body weight support during robot-assisted walking: influence on the trunk and pelvis kinematics

Eva Swinnen, Jean-Pierre Baeyens, Gerrit Hens, Kristel Knaepen, David Beckwée, Marc Michielsen, Ron Clijsen, Eric Kerckhofs
NeuroRehabilitation 2015, 36 (1): 81-91

BACKGROUND: Efficacy studies concerning robot assisted gait rehabilitation showed limited clinical benefits. A changed kinematic pattern might be responsible for this. Little is known about the kinematics of the trunk and pelvis during robot assisted treadmill walking (RATW).

OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to assess the trunk and pelvis kinematics of healthy subjects during RATW, with different amounts of body weight support (BWS) compared to regular treadmill walking (TW).

METHOD: Eighteen healthy participants walked on a treadmill, while kinematics were registered by an electromagnetic tracking device. Hereafter, the kinematics of pelvis and trunk were registered during RATW (guidance force 30%) with 0%, 30% and 50% BWS.

RESULTS: Compared to TW, RATW showed a decrease in the following trunk movements: axial rotation, anteroposterior flexion, lateral and anteroposterior translation. Besides, a decrease in lateral tilting and all translation of the pelvis was found when comparing RATW with TW. Furthermore, the anteroposterior tilting of the pelvis increased during RATW.

CONCLUSION: In general, there was a decrease in trunk and pelvis movement amplitude during RATW compared with regular TW. Though, it is not known if these changes are responsible for the limited efficacy of robot assisted gait rehabilitation. Further research is indicated.

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