Effects of robot-assisted gait training in patients with Parkinson’s disease: study protocol for a randomized controlled trial
Min-Gu Kang1, Seo Jung Yun1, Hyun Iee Shin1, Eunkyung Kim1, Hyun Haeng Lee2, Byung-Mo Oh1 and Han Gil Seo
Robot-assisted gait training (RAGT) was developed to restore gait function by promoting neuroplasticity through repetitive locomotor training and has been utilized in gait training. However, contradictory outcomes of RAGT have been reported for patients with Parkinson’s disease (PD). In addition, the mechanism of the RAGT treatment effect is still unknown. This study aims to investigate the effects of RAGT on gait velocity in patients with PD and to unveil the mechanisms of these effects.
This is a prospective, single-blind, single-center, randomized controlled trial. Eligible participants will be randomly allocated to: 1) a Walkbot-S™ RAGT group or 2) a treadmill training group. The participants will receive three 45-min sessions of each intervention per week for 4weeks. Gait speed during RAGT will be targeted to the maximal speed depending on the participant’s height; the same principle will be applied to the treadmill training group to match the training intensity. The primary outcome measure is gait speed measured by the 10-Meter Walk Test at a comfortable pace under single-task conditions. Secondary outcomes include dual-task interference, the Berg Balance Scale, Timed Up and Go test, the Korean version of the Falls Efficacy Scale-International, New Freezing of Gait Questionnaire, Movement Disorder Society-sponsored revision of the Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale, and functional connectivity measured by resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging. Baseline assessments (T0) will be conducted to acquire clinical characteristics and outcome measure values before the intervention. Postintervention assessments (T1) will compare immediate efficacies within 3 days after the intervention. Follow-up assessments (T2) will be conducted 1 month after the intervention. Considering an alpha of 0.05 and a power of 80%, the total number of participants to be recruited is 44.
This study will reveal the effect of RAGT using an exoskeletal robot, not only on gait speed, but also on gait automaticity, balance function, fall risk, quality of life, and disease severity. In addition, the study will shed new light on the mechanism of the RAGT effect by evaluating changes in gait automaticity and brain functional networks.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov, NCT03490578. Registered on 21 March 2018.
Keywords: Gait, Parkinson disease, Exoskeleton device, Rehabilitation, Neuroimaging