Treadmill training with partial body weight support has been suggested as a useful strategy for gait rehabilitation after stroke. This prospective, randomized, controlled study of gait training tested the feasibility and potential efficacy of using a robotic-assisted gait device, Lokomat, for treadmill training with partial body weight support in subjects with chronic hemiplegia; the device was also compared with conventional home exercise. Twenty-two male ambulatory ischemic or hemorrhagic induced stroke patients with chronic hemiplegia lasting at least 12 months were enrolled in this prospective study. The patients were assigned to either the Lokomat group or the conventional exercise group. The Lokomat group underwent active robotic training for ten sessions (five sessions per week for two weeks). Each session lasted 30 minutes. If a patient missed three consecutive training sessions, he was removed from the study. The Timed Up and Go Test is used to assess mobility and requires both static and dynamic balance. The 10-m Timed Walking Speed Test is designed to determine the patient's overground walking speed. The Mini-Mental State Examination and Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale were used for mental and psychological evaluation; the Functional Ambulation Categories was used to assess ambulatory status. Within each eight-week interval, the patients undergoing the Lokomat training demonstrated significantly greater improvement on the Timed Up and Go Test and 10-m Timed Walking Speed Test than those undergoing conventional training. Despite the small number of patients in the study, the present data suggests that the robotic-assisted device, Lokomat, provides innovative possibilities for gait training in chronic hemiplegia rehabilitation by training at higher intensity levels for longer durations than traditional home exercise.
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