Feasibility of motor-assisted elliptical to improve walking, fitness and balance following pediatric acquired brain injury: A case series

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PURPOSE: Walking, fitness, and balance deficits are common following acquired brain injury (ABI). This study assessed feasibility, acceptability, and usefulness of a modified motor-assisted elliptical (ICARE) in addressing walking, fitness, and balance deficits in children with chronic ABIs. METHODS: Three children (>  5 years post-ABI) completed 24 ICARE exercise sessions (exercise time, speed, and time overriding motor-assistance gradually increased) to promote mass repetition of gait-like movements and challenge cardiorespiratory fitness. Parents’ and children’s perceptions of ICARE’s safety, comfort, workout, and usability were assessed. Cardiovascular response, gait and balance outcomes were assessed. RESULTS: No adverse events occurred. Parent’s Visual Analogue Scale (VAS) scores of perceived device safety (range 80–99), workout (range 99–100), and usability (range 75–100) were high, while comfort were 76–80 given commercial harness fit and arm support. Children’s VAS scores all exceeded 89. Comfortable walking velocity, 2-Minute Walk Test, fitness, and Pediatric Balance Scale scores improved post-training, with many outcomes surpassing established minimal clinically important differences. CONCLUSION: Following engagement in moderate- to vigorous-intensity exercise promoting repetitive step-like movements on a specially adapted motor-assisted elliptical, three children with chronic ABI demonstrated improvements in walking, fitness and balance. Future research in community-based environments with a larger cohort of children with ABI is needed.

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Journal of Pediatric Rehabilitation Medicine





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