Background People with multiple sclerosis (MS) often develop symptoms including muscle weakness, spasticity, imbalance, and sensory loss in the lower limbs, especially at the ankle, which result in impaired balance and locomotion and increased risk of falls. Rehabilitation strategies that improve ankle function may improve mobility and safety of ambulation in patients with MS. This pilot study investigated effectiveness of a robot-guided ankle passive-active movement training in reducing motor and sensory impairments and improving balance and gait functions. Methods Seven patients with MS participated in combined passive stretching and active movement training using an ankle rehabilitation robot. Six of the patients finished robotic training 3 sessions per week over 6 weeks for a total of 18 sessions. Biomechanical and clinical outcome evaluations were done before and after the 6-week treatment, and at a follow-up six weeks afterwards. Results After six-week ankle sensorimotor training, there were increases in active range of motion in dorsiflexion, dorsiflexor and plantar flexor muscle strength, and balance and locomotion (p<0.05). Proprioception acuity showed a trend of improvement. Improvements in four biomechanical outcome measures and two of the clinical outcome measures were maintained at the 6-week follow-up. The study showed the six-week training duration was appropriate to see improvement of range of motion and strength for MS patients with ankle impairment. Conclusion Robot-guided ankle training is potentially a useful therapeutic intervention to improve mobility in patients with MS.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Clinical Neurology
- 6-week intervention
- Multiple sclerosis
- Robot-guided rehabilitation