UCLA Paralysis Study
Found No Difference in Therapies - Partially Paralyzed Patients Saw No
Extra Benefit in Weight-Supported Treadmill Compared to Conventional
UCLA researchers have found that both body weight-supported treadmill
training was just as effective as traditional rehabilitation for
restoring movement in patients that are partially paralyzed. The study
also found that high numbers from both treatment groups achieved
functional walking speeds within six months.
The researchers expected the body weight-supported treadmill treatment
to be superior. But the study author, Dr. Bruce H. Dobkin, said “we
found no significant difference” in the treatments. Dr. Dobkin is
professor of neurology and medical director of the Neurologic
Rehabilitation and Research Program at the David Geffen School of
Medicine at UCLA.
The researchers analyzed 117 individuals who had a partial spinal cord
injury within the previous 8 weeks. They randomly selected 58 patients
to receive body weight-supported treadmill training, while the other 59
patients received “conventional” over-ground mobility therapy.
They divided the patients into three groups, depending on their
impairment. Group B was more impaired than C or D (least impaired).
They all received the same amount of therapy for 12 weeks. The majority
in group C were able to walk independently by the sixth month following
the injury, regardless of the therapy.
The treatments produced the same results. In the weight-supported
treadmill therapy 24 of the 26 patients were able to walk
independently. With conventional therapy the ratio was the same: 24 of
the 26 treated were able to walk independently. There was no
statistical difference in walking speed for those in groups C and D.
The average speed was 1.1 meter per second. According to the study
“Entering the trial earlier (less than four weeks after the injury) was
associated with faster walking speeds and longer walking distances at
the six-month follow-up.” Dr. Dobkin said “Given that both therapy
methods produced similar outcomes, clinicians and patients could base
their use of each strategy on personal preferences, skill, availability
of equipment and costs.”
UCLA has been on the cutting edge of research into spinal cord
injuries. The University developed a treadmill training system
currently manufactured by Robomedica, Inc. The current UCLA study is
published in the Feb. 28 issue of Neurology, the scientific journal of
the American Academy of Neurology.
By Dan Wilson
Best Syndication Staff Writer
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