Ankle Robotics Training After Stroke

Completed

Phase N/A Results

Trial Description

Veterans and other Americans who survive stroke often face disabling motor impairments that impede performance of activities of daily living and limit free-living activity. Prominent among these are diminished walking and balance functions, which not only foster a sedentary lifestyle and physical deconditioning, but also increase the risk of injuries due to falls. Recent research has demonstrated how motor learning based interventions can modify brain activity and improve motor functions in persons with stroke. Now there is a major research opportunity to advance the effectiveness of these interventions by applying new robotics technologies to improve control of essential functions such as gait and balance. One critical area for performance of walking and standing balance is the control of the ankles, as they are a major conduit of mechanical power in gait and also modulate torques affecting the motion of the whole body center of mass when balancing. Thus the current proposal is designed to investigate two approaches for using an impedance controlled ankle robot to improve gait and balance among stroke survivors with chronic lower extremity weakness. One approach uses the ankle robot in a seated visuomotor training program that focuses has subjects play video games with the weaker ankle to improve paretic ankle motor control that may carry over to gait and balance functions. The other approach uses task-specific gait training by integrating use of the ankle robot during treadmill exercise training to assess effects on the same functions. The effectiveness of both robotics approaches will be compared to that of a treadmill exercise program without robotics.

Detailed Description

Veterans and other Americans who survive stroke often face disabling motor impairments that impede performance of activities of daily living and limit free-living activity. Prominent among these are diminished locomotor function and impaired balance that not only foster a sedentary lifestyle and physical deconditioning, but also increase the risk injuries due to falls. Recent research has demonstrated how motor learning based interventions can modify brain activity and improve motor functions in persons with stroke. Now there is a major research opportunity to advance the effectiveness of these interventions by applying new robotics technologies to improve neuromotor control of essential functions such as gait and balance. One critical area for performance of walking and standing balance is the control of the ankles, as they are a major conduit of mechanical power in gait and also modulate torques affecting the motion of the whole body center of mass when balancing. Thus the current proposal is designed to investigate two approaches for using an impedance controlled ankle robot to improve gait and balance function among stroke survivors with chronic lower extremity hemiparesis. One approach uses the ankle robot in a seated visuomotor training program that focuses on improving paretic ankle motor control that may transfer to gait and balance functions. The other approach follows the dominant rehabilitation paradigm of task-specific training by integrating use of the ankle robot during treadmill exercise training to assess effects on the same outcomes. The effectiveness of both robotics approaches will be compared to that of a treadmill exercise program without robotics.
The study tests the hypothesis that, in persons with chronic lower extremity hemiparesis, 6 weeks of seated ankle robot training will improve paretic ankle motor control with major improvements in standing balance and moderate improvements in gait, whereas the same amount of training on the treadmill with the ankle robot will improve gait function more than balance. Both robot-trained groups will outperform the treadmill only group on balance, while the treadmill + robot group will make the greatest gains in gait and the seated robot group will make some improvement in gait but will show greater gains in ankle motor control and balance.
Aims: In a 6-week intervention (18 sessions) with persons with chronic lower extremity hemiparesis 1) Compare effects of seated visuomotor ankle robot training vs. treadmill + robot training on paretic ankle impairments and motor control; 2) Compare effects of seated-robot vs. treadmill + robot training on functional mobility and balance outcomes; and 3) Compare the effectiveness of both robotics approaches to a standard treadmill exercise protocol of the same duration. This proposal will establish the initial comparative efficacy of two motor learning based approaches using a modular impedance controlled ankle robot and contrast motor control and functional gait and balance outcomes among them. As a pilot study we also will establish initial deficit profiles for users that respond to each intervention across the 6-week period.

Conditions

Interventions

  • Seated Robot Training (SRT) Behavioral
    Intervention Desc: Participants at least 6 mos. post-stroke will use the ankle robot in a seated visuo-motor training paradigm. They will train on the robot 3x weekly for 6-weeks (18 sessions) by playing videogames with the paretic ankle. They will be evaluated on outcomes at baseline, post-6 weeks training, and again after a 6-week retention period with no training.
    ARM 1: Kind: Experimental
    Label: 1
    Description: Seated robot training group. Participants at least 6 mos. post-stroke will use the ankle robot in a seated visuo-motor training paradigm. They will train on the robot 3x weekly for 6-weeks (18 sessions) by playing videogames with the paretic ankle. They will be evaluated on outcomes at baseline, post-6 weeks training, and again after a 6-week retention period with no training.
    ARM 2: Kind: Experimental
    Label: Arm 1
    Description: Seated robot training group. Participants at least 6 mos. post-stroke will use the ankle robot in a seated visuo-motor training paradigm. They will train on the robot 3x weekly for 6-weeks (18 sessions) by playing videogames with the paretic ankle. They will be evaluated on outcomes at baseline, post-6 weeks training, and again after a 6-week retention period with no training.
  • Treadmill Locomotor-based Training (TMR) Behavioral
    Intervention Desc: Treadmill training with ankle robot group. Participants at least 6 mos. post-stroke will wear the ankle robot during treadmill locomotor training. They will walk on a treadmill with the ankle robot adjusted to promote paretic ankle engagement during 3 x weekly training sessions over 6 weeks (18 sessions). They will be evaluated on outcomes at baseline, post-6 weeks training, and again after a 6-week retention period with no training.
    ARM 1: Kind: Experimental
    Label: 2
    Description: Treadmill training with ankle robot group. Participants at least 6 mos. post-stroke will wear the ankle robot during treadmill locomotor training. They will walk on a treadmill with the ankle robot adjusted to promote paretic ankle engagement during 3 x weekly training sessions over 6 weeks (18 sessions). They will be evaluated on outcomes at baseline, post-6 weeks training, and again after a 6-week retention period with no training.
    ARM 2: Kind: Experimental
    Label: Arm 2
    Description: Treadmill training with ankle robot group. Participants at least 6 mos. post-stroke will wear the ankle robot during treadmill locomotor training. They will walk on a treadmill with the ankle robot adjusted to promote paretic ankle engagement during 3 x weekly training sessions over 6 weeks (18 sessions). They will be evaluated on outcomes at baseline, post-6 weeks training, and again after a 6-week retention period with no training.
  • Treadmill Only (TMO) Behavioral
    Intervention Desc: Treadmill only group. This group will consist of participants at least 6 mos. post-stroke who engage in treadmill training 3x weekly for 6 weeks without robotic support. They will be volunteers from another treadmill training study and evaluated on outcomes at baseline and post-6 weeks training. They will not receive retention testing at 12 weeks because they will be continuing with regular treadmill training beyond the 6-week period.
    ARM 1: Kind: Experimental
    Label: 3
    Description: Treadmill only group. This group will consist of participants at least 6 mos. post-stroke who engage in treadmill training 3x weekly for 6 weeks without robotic support. They will be volunteers from another treadmill training study and evaluated on outcomes at baseline and post-6 weeks training. They will not receive retention testing at 12 weeks because they will be continuing with regular treadmill training beyond the 6-week period.
    ARM 2: Kind: Experimental
    Label: Arm 3
    Description: Treadmill only group. This group will consist of participants at least 6 mos. post-stroke who engage in treadmill training 3x weekly for 6 weeks without robotic support. They will be volunteers from another treadmill training study and evaluated on outcomes at baseline and post-6 weeks training. They will not receive retention testing at 12 weeks because they will be continuing with regular treadmill training beyond the 6-week period.
  • Seated Robot Trainiing (SRT) Behavioral
    Intervention Desc: Participants at least 6 mos. post-stroke will use the ankle robot in a seated visuo-motor training paradigm. They will train on the robot 3x weekly for 6-weeks (18 sessions) by playing videogames with the paretic ankle. They will be evaluated on outcomes at baseline, post-6 weeks training, and again after a 6-week retention period with no training.
    ARM 1: Kind: Experimental
    Label: 1
    Description: Seated robot training group. Participants at least 6 mos. post-stroke will use the ankle robot in a seated visuo-motor training paradigm. They will train on the robot 3x weekly for 6-weeks (18 sessions) by playing videogames with the paretic ankle. They will be evaluated on outcomes at baseline, post-6 weeks training, and again after a 6-week retention period with no training.

Trial Design

  • Allocation: Randomized
  • Masking: Single Blind (Outcomes Assessor)
  • Endpoint: Efficacy Study
  • Intervention: Parallel Assignment

Outcomes

Type Measure Time Frame Safety Issue
Primary Self-selected floor walking velocity 6 weeks, 12 weeks retention No
Secondary Gait kinetics 6 weeks, 12 weeks retention No
Secondary Berg Balance scale 6 weeks, 12 weeks retention No
Secondary Dynamic Gait Index 6 weeks, 12 weeks retention No
Secondary Anticipatory Postural Adjustments 6 weeks, 12 weeks retention No
Primary Self-selected Floor Walking Velocity Change From Baseline to Post-training and Retention Baseline, Post-test training at 6 weeks; Retention at 12 weeks (note TMO control has no retention period) No

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