Spinal cord injury (SCI) is characterized by a total or partial deficit of sensory and motor pathways. Impairments of this injury compromise muscle recruitment and motor planning, thus reducing functional capacity. SCI patients commonly present psychological, intestinal, urinary, osteomioarticular, tegumentary, cardiorespiratory and neural alterations that aggravate in chronic phase. One of the neurorehabilitation goals is the restoration of these abilities by favoring improvement in the quality of life and functional independence. Current literature highlights several benefits of robotic gait therapies in SCI individuals.
The purpose of this study was to compare the robotic gait devices, and systematize the scientific evidences of these devices as a tool for rehabilitation of SCI individuals.
A systematic review was carried out in which relevant articles were identified by searching the following databases: Cochrane Library, PubMed, PEDro and Capes Periodic. Two authors selected the articles which used a robotic device for rehabilitation of spinal cord injury.
Databases search found 2941 articles, 39 articles were included due to meet the inclusion criteria. The robotic devices presented distinct features, with increasing application in the last years. Studies have shown promising results regarding the reduction of pain perception and spasticity level; alteration of the proprioceptive capacity, sensitivity to temperature, vibration, pressure, reflex behavior, electrical activity at muscular and cortical level, classification of the injury level; increase in walking speed, step length and distance traveled; improvements in sitting posture, intestinal, cardiorespiratory, metabolic, tegmental and psychological functions.
This systematic review shows a significant progress encompassing robotic devices as an innovative and effective therapy for the rehabilitation of individuals with SCI.