The aim of this pilot study is to test the feasibility and effectiveness of a wearable proprioceptive stabilizer that emits focal mechanical vibrations in patients affected by hereditary cerebellar ataxias. Eleven adult patients with a confirmed genetic diagnosis of autosomal dominant spinocerebellar ataxia or Friedreich's ataxia were asked to wear an active device for 3 weeks. Assessments were performed at baseline, after the device use (T1), and 3 weeks after (T2). SARA, 9-HPT, PATA, 6MWT, and spatial and temporal gait parameters, measured with a BTS-G-Walk inertial sensor, were used as study endpoints. As expected, no adverse effects were reported. Statistically significant improvements in SARA, 9HPT dominant hand, PATA test, 6MWT, cadence, length cycle, support right/cycle, support left/cycle, flight right/cycle, flight left/cycle, double support right/cycle, double support left/cycle, single support right/cycle, and single support left/cycle were observed between T0 and T1. All parameters improved at T1 did not show statistically significant differences a T2, with the exception of length of cycle. This small open-labeled study shows preliminary evidence that focal mechanical vibration exerted by a wearable proprioceptive stabilizer might improve limb and gait ataxia in patients affected by hereditary cerebellar ataxias.
Keywords: Focal mechanical vibrations; Gait ataxia; Hereditary cerebellar ataxias; Neurorehabilitation.