Background: Gait and mobility impairments are common in progressive multiple sclerosis (MS), leading to reduced quality of life (QoL).
Objective: In this randomized controlled study, we tested the effects of robot-assisted gait training (RAGT) and compared it to conventional physiotherapy, measuring walking ability, depression, fatigue, and QoL in patients with progressive MS and severe gait disability.
Methods: Fifty-two participants (Expanded Disability Status Scale score 6-7) completed the study protocol. They received two sessions/week over 6 weeks of RAGT or conventional walking therapy. Outcome measures were Six-Minute Walk Test, Ten-Meter Walk Test, Timed Up and Go Test, Berg Balance Scale, Fatigue Severity Scale, Patient Health Questionnaire, and Short Form 36. They were performed pre-treatment, post-treatment, and at 3 months.
Results: Walking endurance (p < 0.01) and balance (p < 0.01) were improved among those in the RAGT group. Positive effects on depression in both treatment groups were highlighted. However, only among those in the RAGT group was perceived physical functioning QoL increased. No significant effects on fatigue were found.
Conclusion: RAGT is a treatment option in progressive MS patients with severe gait impairments to induce short-lasting effects on mobility and QoL.
Keywords: QoL; Robot-assisted gait training; gait; multiple sclerosis; rehabilitation.
© The Author(s), 2015.