In the first pilot randomized controlled trial of robotic exoskeleton-assisted exercise rehabilitation (REAER), researchers from the Kessler Foundation found that REAER had positive effects on improving mobility and cognitive function in subjects who had significant MS-related neurological disability that limited their ability to walk.
Four weeks of REAER were compared to four weeks of conventional gait training. The training with the FDA-cleared Ekso Bionics’s Ekso-GT exoskeleton device produced large improvements in functional mobility, cognitive processing speed, and brain connectivity outcomes, most significantly between the thalamus and ventromedial prefrontal cortex. The REAER group patients took about 59 percent more steps during the last session compared with the first, among multiple assessments. By contrast, patients in the control group using gait training had stable or declining outcomes.
Impairments in mobility and cognition are common in multiple sclerosis patients, and exercise such as walking is one of the more effective therapies in the limited group available. While this was a small group trial (10 patients), the results shown within a relatively short period of time are promising for larger group studies and wider application.
The research was performed by the New Jersey-based Kessler Foundation with funding from the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, USA (Collaborative Network of New Jersey), Award Number: CA1069-A-7; and Joy and Avi Avidan, New Jersey, USA. Kessler release, Multiple Sclerosis News Today Hat tip to Editor Emeritus Steve