Background: Preservation of locomotor activity in multiple sclerosis (MS) patients is of utmost importance. Robotic-assisted body weight-supported treadmill training is a promising method to improve gait functions in neurologically impaired patients, although its effectiveness in MS patients is still unknown.Objective: To compare the effectiveness of robot-assisted gait training (RAGT) with that of conventional walking treatment (CWT) on gait and generalized functions in a group of stable MS patients.Methods: A prospective randomized controlled trial of 12 sessions of RAGT or CWT in MS patients of EDSS score 5-7. Primary outcome measures were gait parameters and the secondary outcomes were functional and quality of life parameters. All tests were performed at baseline, 3 and 6 months post-treatment by a blinded rater.Results: Fifteen and 17 patients were randomly allocated to RAGT and CWT, respectively. Both groups were comparable at baseline in all parameters. As compared with baseline, although some gait parameters improved significantly following the treatment at each time point there was no difference between the groups. Both FIM and EDSS scores improved significantly post-treatment with no difference between the groups. At 6 months, most gait and functional parameters had returned to baseline.Conclusions: Robot-assisted gait training is feasible and safe and may be an effective additional therapeutic option in MS patients with severe walking disabilities.
- multiple sclerosis
- robot-assisted gait training