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UCLA Paralysis Study Found No Difference in Therapies - Partially Paralyzed Patients Saw No Extra Benefit in Weight-Supported Treadmill Compared to Conventional Methods

February 28th 2006

UCLA Paralysis Study Found No Difference in Therapies - Partially Paralyzed Patients Saw No Extra Benefit in Weight-Supported Treadmill Compared to Conventional Methods

Robomedica Treadmill

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.

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By Dan Wilson
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Copyright 2005 Best Syndication                                            Last Updated Saturday, July 10, 2010 09:50 PM