Kessler Foundation recently announced it will use an Ekso Bionics exoskeleton in a grant-funded trial to develop new applications for wearable robotic exoskeletons.
According to a press release from Ekso Bionics, the multicenter randomized controlled trial (RCT) is funded by a $1 million grant from the federal government. The project, entitled “Robotic Exoskeleton Gait Training during Acute Stroke Rehabilitation,” will explore the clinical, functional and neurophysiological effectiveness of early intervention gait therapy for stroke patients using a wearable robotic exoskeleton. The researchers will look for evidence of improvements in functional independence measure and neurophysiological outcomes for patients using the Ekso GT exoskeleton.
“We are encouraged by our preliminary data demonstrating functional improvements in participants who gait train using Ekso GT and are excited to expand our research to help further validate our early findings,” Karen J. Nolan, PhD, senior research scientist in Human Performance and Engineering Research at Kessler Foundation, said in the release. “The findings of this multicenter RCT will have the potential to make a significant impact on the utilization of [robotic exoskeleton] technology to advance stroke rehabilitation.”
The study will include 96 patients at Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation who are within 2 weeks of stroke onset and will assign participants randomly to one of three groups to receive robotic exoskeleton care, traditional gait training/standard of care or crossover care.
The project is one of five joint projects conducted by Kessler Foundation and the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) with a $5 million federal grant from the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living and Rehabilitation Research entitled, Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Wearable Robots (NIDILRR #90RE5021-01-00), with $2 million designated for the application of the Ekso GT in brain injury and spinal cord injury.
Richard Foulds, PhD, associate professor of bioengineering at NJIT, is the principal investigator. Guang Yue, PhD, director of Human Performance & Engineering Research at Kessler Foundation is the co-principal investigator.
Since April 2014, Kessler Foundation has received $1.3 million in grants to study the Ekso GT in brain injury, according to the release. The project also will include educational and training activities for therapists, physicians and doctoral researchers to share the benefits of commercial and experimental wearable robots.