Hesse and Uhlenbrock: A mechanized gait trainer for restoration of gait
The newly developed gait trainer allows wheel-chair-bound subjects the repetitive practice of a gait-like movement without overstressing therapists. The device simulates the phases of gait, supports the subjects according to their abilities, and controls the center of mass (CoM) in the vertical and horizontal directions. The patterns of sagittal lower limb joint kinematics and of muscle activation for a normal subject were similar when using the mechanized trainer and when walking on a treadmill. A non-ambulatory hemiparetic subject required little help from one therapist on the gait trainer, while two therapists were required to support treadmill walking. Gait movements on the trainer were highly symmetrical, impact free, and less spastic. The vertical displacement of the CoM was bi-phasic instead of mono-phasic during each gait cycle on the new device. Two cases of non-ambulatory patients, who regained their walking ability after 4 weeks of daily training on the gait trainer, are reported.