Hybrid Assistive Limb (HAL) is a wearable human assistant cyborg-type robot that helps lower-leg movement based on bioelectrical signals detected from the voluntary movement of the person wearing it. In this study, we developed a novel staged HAL treatment protocol for patients with acute stroke. The Regain Program for Gait with HAL (RPG-HAL) was formulated in four steps, based on the severity of limb paralysis. Twenty-one patients with acute stroke received a combination treatment of RPG-HAL and conventional rehabilitation. The feasibility and safety of RPG-HAL were evaluated based on changes in physical function and activities of daily living (ADL). RPG-HAL yielded improvement in gait speed, cadence, step length, and functional ambulation category (FAC). The effect size was >0.8 in all measurements. FAC (1.90) and Barthel Index (BI) (1.92) exhibited the highest scores. Twelve out of 14 patients with FAC 0 before RPG-HAL reached the upper FAC. Thus, earlier intervention using RPG-HAL as improving physical function, ADL, and gait ability in patients with stroke.
Keywords: gait treatment; hybrid assistive limb; stroke.