Objective: We developed a footpad-type locomotion interface called the GaitMaster. The purpose of this pilot study was to examine the effects of gait rehabilitation using the GaitMaster in chronic stroke patients.
Design: Randomized cross-over design.
Setting: An outpatient department.
Subjects: Twelve patients with chronic post-stroke hemiparesis.
Intervention: In group A, patients underwent an 'intervention phase' followed by a 'non-intervention phase', whereas in group B, patients underwent the non-intervention phase first, followed by the intervention phase. In the four- or six-week intervention phase, participants underwent twelve 20-minute sessions of gait rehabilitation using the GaitMaster4.
Main outcome measures: We measured gait speed and timed up-and-go test.
Results: No differences between the two groups were observed in the baseline clinical data. For the combined groups A and B, the maximum gait and timed up-and-go test speeds improved significantly only in the intervention phase (P = 0.0001 and P = 0.003, respectively). The percentages of improvement from baseline at the end of GaitMaster training were 16.6% for the maximum gait speed and 8.3% for the timed up-and-go test. The effect size for GaitMaster4 training was 0.58 on the maximum gait speed and 0.43 on the timed up-and-go test.
Conclusions: This pilot study showed that gait rehabilitation using the GaitMaster4 was a feasible training method for chronic stroke patients. Calculation of the sample size indicated that a sample size of 38 participants would be adequate to test a null hypothesis of nil benefit additional to routine rehabilitation for chronic stroke patients in a future randomized controlled trial.