Wearable exoskeletons, a form of robot-assisted therapy, improve satisfaction with gait training in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) and their treating physiotherapists, according to a new cross-sectional study out of Madrid, Spain.
Researchers at the Madrid Foundation against Multiple Sclerosis surveyed 54 study participants, including patients with MS and physiotherapists specializing in neurologic rehabilitation. Clinical data was analyzed alongside data from self-administered scales to evaluate patient and provider satisfaction with the EKSO GTⓇ exoskeleton.
The results of the study demonstrated that rehabilitation therapy with the EKSO GT exoskeleton led to a high level of satisfaction on both the Quebec User Evaluation with Assistive Technology Questionnaire (Quest 2.0) and the Client Satisfaction Questionnaire (CSQ-8).
The study found a moderate correlation between satisfaction scores and total time spent in the device (rho=0.532; P <.001). A strong correlation was found when comparing the experience level of the physiotherapist with the possibility of incorporating wearable exoskeletons into other, nonrobotic forms of gait training therapy (rho=0.723; P =.003).
Among patients enrolled in the study, safety and overall effectiveness were the most highly scored characteristics of the EKSO GT. Physiotherapists valued the exoskeleton’s compatibility with other gait training modalities and the positive impact it had on patient mobility. Patients did feel, however, that certain features of the device such as weight and overall comfort should be improved in future versions.
The authors noted that “most studies on robotic exoskeletons to date have focused on biomechanics, safety, and clinical outcomes. Related to MS, there is evidence that therapy with EKSO GT is associated with large improvements in functional mobility and cognitive processing compared to conventional overground walking.”
The EKSO GT is an electronic, lower limb, wearable exoskeleton designed to improve gait and mobility in patients with neurological diseases such as MS. The device is designed to minimize compensatory patterns in patients with gait instability while improving mobility and guiding recovery.
Fernández-Vázquez D, Cano-de-la-Cuerda R, Gor-García-Fogeda MD, Molina-Rueda F. Wearable robotic gait training in persons with multiple sclerosis: a satisfaction study. Sensors (Basel). 2021(14):4940. doi:10.3390/s21144940