Title : Determining the merits of the REX Bionics Exoskeleton in neuro-rehabilitation post stroke
Background: Access to high intensity weight-bearing exercise for those with severe mobility impairment post stroke is very limited. Technological advancements have led to the development of a variety of overground lower limb robotic exoskeletons. Only the REX Bionics Exoskeleton is free-standing, which may therefore offer a potential option for upright exercise in those with hemiplegia, as they do not need to use a walking aid with the device. To date, there is no published research in the stroke population with this device.
Method: Four stroke patients with ≤3 on the mobility section of the Motor Assessment Scale were recruited to a 12-week waitlist controlled trial. The treatment phase included twice weekly robotic treatment in the REX Bionics exoskeleton, for 12 weeks. The primary outcome of interest was function, measured by the Motor Assessment Scale. Secondary outcomes were balance, spasticity, strength, quality of life, mood, level of impairment, fatigue, fitness and perceptions of the device.
Results: Four participants completed the trial, with no adverse events occurring. One participant was lost to follow up. The questionnaire on perceptions of the device yielded favourable responses, with all four participants enjoying the opportunity to exercise in a supported upright position. There were however no meaningful changes in any outcome measure.
Conclusion: These are the preliminary findings of this ongoing pilot feasibility study to determine the potential merits of this device. Future studies would require bigger samples to make any valid conclusions about the use of this device as an adjunct tool in neuro-rehabilitation.