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Open Access Research article

Efficacy of a hybrid assistive limb in post-stroke hemiplegic patients: a preliminary report

Shinichiro Maeshima1*, Aiko Osawa1, Daisuke Nishio2, Yoshitake Hirano2, Koji Takeda2, Hiroshi Kigawa2 and Yoshiyuki Sankai3

Author Affiliations

1 Rehabilitation Medicine, Saitama Medical University International Medical Center, Hidaka, Japan

2 Rehabilitation Center, Hanno Seiwa Hospital, Hanno, Japan

3 Graduate School of Systems and Information Engineering, University of Tsukuba, Tsukuba, Japan

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BMC Neurology 2011, 11:116  doi:10.1186/1471-2377-11-116

Published: 27 September 2011

Abstract

Background

Robotic devices are expected to be widely used in various applications including support for the independent mobility of the elderly with muscle weakness and people with impaired motor function as well as support for nursing care that involves heavy laborious work. We evaluated the effects of a hybrid assistive limb robot suit on the gait of stroke patients undergoing rehabilitation.

Methods

The study group comprised 16 stroke patients with severe hemiplegia. All patients underwent gait training. Four patients required assistance, and 12 needed supervision while walking. The stride length, walking speed and physiological cost index on wearing the hybrid assistive limb suit and a knee-ankle-foot orthosis were compared.

Results

The hybrid assistive limb suit increased the stride length and walking speed in 4 of 16 patients. The patients whose walking speed decreased on wearing the hybrid assistive limb suit either had not received sufficient gait training or had an established gait pattern with a knee-ankle-foot orthosis using a quad cane. The physiological cost index increased after wearing the hybrid assistive limb suit in 12 patients, but removal of the suit led to a decrease in the physiological cost index values to equivalent levels prior to the use of the suit.

Conclusions

Although the hybrid assistive limb suit is not useful for all hemiplegic patients, it may increase the walking speed and affect the walking ability. Further investigation would clarify its indication for the possibility of gait training.