Compare Gait Training Methods

Assisted Gait Training (AGT) describes activities in which someone with a walking disability performs repetitive and challenging tasks intended to improve their walking ability, while receiving some form of physical assistance. It is commonly employed by clinicians for patients whose walking disability is the result a neurological motor impairment, with the goal being neuromuscular re-education and/or physical wellness.

Proposition A

There is compelling evidence to support the efficacy of activity-based therapies for functional neurological rehabilitation. The principles of activity-based therapy support AGT as a restorative treatment. Designed to elicit an optimized pattern of afferent input and excitation of the CNS, AGT has great potential for facilitating an adaptive, plastic response in the CNS.

Proposition B

Currently, the clinical toolkit for performing AGT is very limited. Most of the available solutions present a significant drawback to the clinician and end-user. Due to high cost, low therapeutic quality, or low usability, most AGT solutions are untenable. This has led to a vast under-utilization of AGT treatments in neuro-rehab.

So, what does A + B tell us? It tells us a sad truth about the world of neuro rehab. The quality of treatment, in hundreds and thousands of clinics around the world, is being stifled by a failure of the market to produce tools that can unlock critical treatments without a prohibitive cost attached to them. The market is too small to attract a large portion of the world’s innovators and problem solvers. We are essentially ‘on our own.’

This is where the Spartan comes in. Designed from within by an individual undergoing physical therapy for a spinal cord injury, it stands to be the first major step toward mending this problem. Continue reading to see how.

Let’s take a look at the most common tools and methods for perform AGT in the modern neuro rehab clinic:

Direct Manual Assist

The clinician provides all needed support and assistance with their hands and body. Usually done in a walker or parallel bars. The activity is slow and challenging, and usually neglects key gait mechanics (such as dorsiflexion).

Orthoses

Worn by the patient to immobilize various leg joints; the added rigidity allows for upright reciprocal movement. A common example is the knee ankle foot orthotic. Usually used with a walker or canes.

Bodyweight Support (BWS) Harness Systems

Powered harnessing systems intended to lessen the patient’s load, making all gait mechanics easier to achieve. Commonly used in conjunction with several clinicians to help with leg movements.

Robotic Systems

Automated, powered systems that physically move the patient’s legs through gait cycles. Examples include robotic exoskeletons, and robotic treadmill systems.

Step Quantity

Approximately how many steps will the patient take during a typical treatment with this solution?

Step Quality

What quality of steps can be achieved via this solution?

Gait Compensations

How many gait compensations are made by this solution? How many joints are static?

Clinicians/Aides Needed

How many people are commonly needed to assist the patient?

Home Therapy Potential

How likely is this solution to be carried from the clinic to the home?

Exercise Intensity

Does this solution challenge the patient and offer physiological wellness benefits?

Cost

Cost range, approximated by the lowest and highest prices on the market.

In the table below, these four AGT solutions will be stacked up next to the Spartan and evaluated based on how well they deliver value in the form of therapeutic potential, and financial feasibility. The metrics we use to evaluate these two areas are: