Stroke Mobility Options on The Horizon

September 15, 2017 in STSMPT

As time goes on, the medical field invents new technologies to help facilitate health and rehabilitation in all fields. Currently there are over seven million stroke survivors in the United States. Many of these survivors develop difficulties with walking. Scientists have created a new lightweight soft robotic exosuit that may be able to help stroke survivors walk better.

Most existing exosuits that have potential use in walking rehabilitation are rigid and bulky contraptions. This new model, developed by Louis Awad and colleagues, is a soft robotic ankle-support system that weighs only two pounds. Their system consists of a close-fitting belt around the waist and leg straps connected to a calf sleeve. From this sleeve, robotic actuators exert force on a shoe insole which helps provide forward propulsion and correct ankle-related problems, which are common among stroke survivors. They recently tested this suit on stroke patients, and their results published in the July issue of Science Translational Medicine.

They tested the suits on recent stroke survivors. The scientists found that the use of the suits did indeed help with improving gait. This improvement was even greater in lower functioning individuals than higher functioning ones. Ongoing testing will explore long-term effects and practical use.

If this technology works well, it could lead to new options for stroke survivors in helping to regain mobility.

Source: Louis N. Awad, et al. “A Soft Robotic Exosuit Improves Walking in Patients After Stroke.” Science Translational Medicine. Vol 9, Issue 400. DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aai9084

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