R2: Outcomes Associated with Progressive Balance and Gait Training Using the KineAssist® Robot - Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago

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MARS Research Project R2:

Outcomes Associated with Progressive Balance and Gait Training Using the KineAssist® Robot

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Kinea Design, LLC in collaboration with RIC developed the KineAssist® Balance and Gait Training System

Several studies have investigated the use of balance and gait training and have demonstrated significant improvements in walking speed with trained stroke survivors. The inherent risks associated with balance and gait training requires the therapist to be vigilant with providing safety and support during challenging tasks. As a result, consumers are not challenged to their furthest limits and therapists put an inordinate amount of physical effort into safety control. Kinea Design, LLC in collaboration with Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, developed the KineAssist® Balance and Gait Training System. The KineAssist® is a novel device that allows full freedom of motion for the trunk and pelvis during gait and balance tasks with additional postural control to enhance balance stability. These functions are available while the device follows the individual overground with minimal interference. The availability of postural control during complex and omnidirectional movement tasks allows the clinician to guarantee consumer safety and body weight support while at the same time provide graded task challenges to the fullest limits of the consumers capabilities. This KineAssist® is revolutionary in that it is the first device that is fully interactive and responsive to the movements and intentions of both the consumer and the therapist during challenging overground balance and gait activities.

Accordingly, the long-term objective of this research is to test the efficacy of robotically enhanced, progressive gait and balance training for improving walking outcomes post-stroke. The following two aims are designed to test whether the KineAssist® provides a more challenging training environment than is typical with physical therapy and then compares walking outcomes as a result of long-term (6 weeks) training. 

Aim 1: To compare physiological effort variables when a person undergoes balance and gait training with versus without a KineAssist® .

Aim 2: Using a randomized controlled research design, compare walking outcomes resulting from gait and balance training with standard physical therapist interaction versus training with the addition of a KineAssist® .

Overall, these studies are an important advance for the development of effective clinical interventions for individuals with impaired locomotor ability post-stroke. This study will provide critical information on physiological effects and clinical outcomes and provide important evidence for the use of this new class of robotic technology that accommodates both the clinician and the consumer in stroke rehabilitation.

This research is supported by the U.S. Department of Education, National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR), Grant Number #H133E070013.