Maintenance of locomotor abilities following Laufband (treadmill) therapy in para- and tetraplegic persons: follow-up studies

Spinal Cord. 1998 Nov;36(11):744-9. doi: 10.1038/


Recent reports indicate that walking capabilities in spinal cord damaged persons significantly improve--as compared to conventional rehabilitation therapy--after intensive training of aided (Laufband) treadmill-stepping. In the present report, follow up investigations on two collectives of spinal cord injured (sci) persons are described who had undergone (Laufband) treadmill therapy either during a period of renewed rehabilitation months or years after spinal cord injury (35 chronic patients) or during their first postacute rehabilitation period (41 acute patients). Among the initially chronic patients, 20 from 25 still wheelchair-bound before the onset of (Laufband) treadmill therapy, ie not capable of raising from the wheelchair and walking without help by other persons, became independent walkers after therapy. Assessment of voluntary muscle activity in resting position before and after the period of therapy had shown only small increases in most patients, indicating the involvement of motor automatisms and better utilisation of remaining muscle function during walking. Follow-up assessments performed 6 months to 6 1/2 years after discharge from the hospital revealed that the walking capabilities achieved by (Laufband) treadmill therapy in the 35 initially chronic patients were maintained in 31 persons, in three they had further improved, in only one it was reduced. These results indicate that the improvements achieved under clinical conditions can be maintained in every day life under domestic surroundings. From 41 initially acute patients, 15 had further improved and none had reduced his walking capability 6 months to 6 years after discharge from the hospital.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Chronic Disease
  • Exercise Therapy*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiopathology
  • Paraplegia / physiopathology*
  • Paraplegia / rehabilitation*
  • Quadriplegia / physiopathology*
  • Quadriplegia / rehabilitation*
  • Walkers
  • Walking / physiology*
  • Wheelchairs