Exoskeleton-assisted walking may improve bowel function in people with spinal cord injury

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Two types of exoskeletons have been used in this multi-site study, ReWalk and Ekso GT. This photo shows an Ekso GT at the Kessler Foundation’s Tim & Caroline Reynolds Spinal Stimulation Center. Credit: Kessler Foundation

A team of researchers has shown that physical intervention plans that included walking with assistance to the exoskeleton helped people with spinal cord injuries to evacuate more efficiently and improve the consistency of their stools. . This finding was reported to Journal of Clinical Medicine on March 2, 2021, in the article “The effect of exoskeletal assisted gait on spinal cord injury Intestinal function: results of a randomized trial and comparison with other physical interventions.”

The authors are Peter H. Gorman, MD, of the University of Maryland School of Medicine, Gail F. Forrest, Ph.D., of the Tim Spinal Stimulation Center, and Caroline Reynolds of the Kessler Foundation, Dr. William Scott, of VA Maryland Healthcare. System, Pierre K. Asselin, MS, Stephen Kornfeld, MD, Eunkyoung Hong, Ph.D., and Ann M. Spungen, EdD, of the James J. Peters VA Medical Center.

Intestinal dysfunction, a after the spinal cord , can cause chronic constipation and incontinence, causing discomfort and frustration. In one survey, more than a third of men with spinal cord injuries reported that bowel and bladder dysfunction had the most significant effect on their life after the injury. Unfortunately, these issues are not easily managed.

Rehabilitation professionals have traditionally managed bowel dysfunction through approaches aimed at the gastrointestinal system or requiring manual intervention, but some more recent research suggests that physical activity and upright posture may improve bowel motility. However, few studies have explored the possibility that exoskeletal assisted walking — in which a person with a spinal cord injury wears a robotic suit that allows them to stand and walk — may be an effective addition to exercise plans. existing intervention.

In this study, the research team investigated whether exoskeletal-assisted gait improved bowel function in people with chronic spinal cord injury. They conducted a three-center, randomized, controlled clinical trial in which 50 participants completed 36 exoskeletal-assisted walking sessions. The researchers assessed bowel function as a secondary outcome in 49 participants. Intestinal function was measured using a 10-question bowel function survey, the Bristol stool-shaped scale, and the intestinal spinal cord injury quality of life management instrument. .

The results showed that the exoskeletal-assisted walking program provided some improvement in bowel function compared with a control group. “We saw a marked reduction in bowel evacuation time, with 24 percent of participants reporting improved experience,” said Drs. Forrest, co-author and associate director of the Mobility and Rehabilitation Center for Rehabilitation Engineering at the Kessler Foundation. “We also noted that participants’ stools tended to be more consistent, supporting our hypothesis that this intervention could improve several measures of function. “

“Our results support the idea that walking, and not just walking, can have a beneficial effect on “Said Dr. Gorman, co-author and head of the Rehabilitation Medicine Division at the University of Maryland Institute of Rehabilitation and Orthopedics.” Our goal is to improve the quality of life of people with chronic spinal cord injuries, and these encouraging results will help inform future studies on the emerging field of mobility intervention. ”


Exoskeleton-assisted walking improves mobility in people with spinal cord injury


More information:
Peter H. Gorman et al, The Effect of Exoskeletal-Assisted Walking on Spinal Injury Medial Function Injury: Results of a Randomized Trial and Comparison with Other Physical Interventions, Journal of Clinical Medicine (2021). DOI: 10.3390 / jcm10050964

Provided by the Kessler Foundation

Citation: Exoskeleton-Assisted Walking May Improve Intestinal Function in People with Spinal Cord Injury (2021, May 28) Retrieved May 29, 2021 at https://medicalxpress.com/news/2021-05- exoskeleton-assisted-bowel-function-people- spinal.html

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