Objective: To assess safety and mobility outcomes utilizing the Indego powered exoskeleton in indoor and outdoor walking conditions with individuals previously diagnosed with a spinal cord injury (SCI). Methods: We conducted a multicenter prospective observational cohort study in outpatient clinics associated with 5 rehabilitation hospitals. A convenience sample of nonambulatory individuals with SCI (N = 32) completed an 8-week training protocol consisting of walking training 3 times per week utilizing the Indego powered exoskeleton in indoor and outdoor conditions. Participants were also trained in donning/doffing the exoskeleton during each session. Safety measures such as adverse events (AEs) were monitored and reported. Time and independence with donning/doffing the exoskeleton as well as walking outcomes to include the 10-meter walk test (10MWT), 6-minute walk test (6MWT), Timed Up & Go test (TUG), and 600-meter walk test were evaluated from midpoint to final evaluations. Results: All 32 participants completed the training protocol with limited device-related AEs, which resulted in no interruption in training. The majority of participants in this trial were able to don and doff the Indego independently. Final walking speed ranged from 0.19 to 0.55 m/s. Final average indoor and outdoor walking speeds among all participants were 0.37 m/s (SD = 0.08, 0.09, respectively), after 8 weeks of training. Significant (p < .05) improvements were noted between midpoint and final gait speeds in both indoor and outdoor conditions. Average walking endurance also improved among participants after training. Conclusion: The Indego was shown to be safe for providing upright mobility to 32 individuals with SCIs who were nonambulatory. Improvements in speed and independence were noted with walking in indoor and outdoor conditions as well as with donning/doffing the exoskeleton.
Keywords: ambulation; exoskeletons; gait; paraplegia; robotic devices; spinal cord injury; walking.