WHY GAIT TRAINING?

TO MAKE NEURO REHABILITATION SUCCESS STORIES LESS RARE, AND ROBUST HEALTH THE NORM.

1. GAIT TRAINING OVERVIEW

Before we dive into Spartan-Assisted Gait Training, we need to take a small step back and quickly go over a few rehabilitative and scientific concepts. Please bear with us, this information is important. It includes:

(1) What gait training is.

(2) Why gait training is in such high demand by the neuro rehab community.

(3) How Spartan-Assisted Gait Training differs from everything else.

Definition

 What you see on the right is an example of gait training. 

Gait training can be done in many different ways, but at its core it is the act of performing repetitive and challenging tasks intended to improve one’s walking ability.

Applications in Neuro Rehab

In neuro rehab, gait training gets a little tricky. A patient might not have much (or any) motor function in their legs. For that reason, gait training in neuro rehab is usually “assisted” or “forced-use” gait training, in which a clinician (or device) assists the trainee in completing the movements that they cannot do on their own.

 
BELOW: Examples of assisted gait training in neuro rehab

2. The Impressive Potential of Gait Training

All over the world, people with movement disabilities are trying to restore function and keep their body healthy.

Recovery of neuromuscular function cannot presently be guaranteed by any therapy regimen. It is fundamentally unpredictable, which is why mindset (link to Mover’s Mindset blog/section) is so important. But you have control over the therapy you choose to do today. Does it align with your goals? Is it evidence-based? Is it aggressive enough?

Improving physiological health is predictable. If you exert yourself a few times a week, which is quite easy to do gait training, your body will adapt to the stress in numerous ways that will change the way you feel each and every day. 

The Rehab Revolution

We used to think the Central Nervous System (CNS) could not repair itself. Traditional neuro rehab focuses on improving a patient’s quality of life and his/her ability to perform essential tasks. It teaches compensation for lost function, rather than restoration.

Eventually we learned that the CNS is not irreparable. We discovered a phenomenon that has become quite popular recently, called neuroplasticity.

Neuroplasticity is the ability of the brain and spinal cord to reorganize neuronal connections and form new ones. It is one of several mechanisms by which the CNS is able to re-organize. Physical therapy doesn’t have to be all about day-to-day tasks and preventing secondary complications. 

 Neuro rehab’s transition from a traditional to a restorative focus is still incomplete in many hospitals and clinics. Although well-intentioned, traditional therapy routines can leave people feeling as though they are wasting precious time learning daily tasks instead of focusing more on recovering. Many researchers and neuro-clinical experts agree. 

 From this massive push for a New Neuro Rehab came Activity-Based Therapy, a fundamentally new approach with more ambitious goals, and better results.

The Activity-Based Therapy Model

The Activity-Based Therapy (ABT) model is, at its root, very simple. 

(1) We know the CNS can be repaired (but usually not on its own).

(2) We also know that the very foundation of physical rehabilitation is rooted in the fact that activity can cause these changes. 

That said, ABTs are a collection of therapy interventions (activities) that possess certain qualities which research has shown are good for triggering and guiding CNS reorganization (recovery). ABTs are by-definition intense, and have the nice side effect of improving physical wellness as well.


ABT treatments try to give the CNS what it needs, and what it needs is patterned excitation, and a lot of it. ABT interventions do this by exhibiting certain critical qualities.

Key ABT Qualities

• Weight-Bearing - Allow gravity to tug on your bones and joints. Shown to slow bone mineral density loss, decrease spasms, improve quality of life, decrease incidence of pressure ulcers, decrease bladder infections, and improve bowel regularity.

• Task-Specificity - Have the same movement pattern as the desired skilled movement. Functional restoration depends of task specificity.

Massed Practice - Activities must involve high repetitions, and therapy should last longer than the typical PT treatment blocks. This is crucial for positive results.

• Locomotor/Gait Training - Take steps with good form; often done by stabilizing the trunk, and having external assistance with leg movements. Shown to improve functional ambulation ability, among many other physiological benefits.

• Developing Joint Range of Motion Strength - The body must be capable of weight bearing activities. 

•  Long Term Physical Activity- Don’t stop doing therapy  after 6 months, a year, or five. There are plenty of examples of people who were paralyzed for a very long time and then see some recovery, the key is smart training and never giving up.

•  Overloading - Challenge your body during training. The body only adapts to conditions of high stress, so go hard.

•  Whole Body Recruitment - (Reducing Compensations) - Don’t neglect or coddle your paralyzed parts. The nervous system needs a lot of patterned activity to initiate relearning.

• Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES) - FES is a technology that forces muscles to contract, and makes patterned activities easier to do.

Citation: Cristina L. Sadowsky, and John W. McDonald. Activity-Based Restorative Therapies: Concepts and Applications in Spinal Cord Injury-Related Neurorehabilitation. J. Developmental Disabilities Research Reviews. 15: 112-116 (2009).

Back to Gait Training

Take another look at that Key ABT Qualities list. Gait training is specifically named as an ABT staple. It also possesses seven of the remaining eight qualities (if you pair it with FES, then it has it all eight!).

Our highest motivation is that more people recovering from a movement disability see large, meaningful results from their therapy. Adopting the ABT model is, we strongly believe, the best way to do that. And since gait training is an ABT powerhouse, we started there with the Spartan.

Ready to take the
next step?

If you are ready to go, purchase your Spartan now and make the next step on your journey an impactful one.

Before purchasing the Spartan, make sure you know What it Takes to Begin Using the Spartan , and have carefully read all of the Safety Information . If you have any questions or need support, we are here to help.