February 27, 2006

“Walking” therapies good for spinal cord injury

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Body weight-supported treadmill
training (BWSTT) or conventional over ground mobility therapy
seem to provide comparable improvements in walking for patients
with mild to moderate impairment following an acute incomplete
spinal cord injury, according to a new report.

The findings were somewhat of a surprise to the
researchers. "We initially expected that BWSTT would be more
effective to regain walking ability than the conventional over
ground mobility therapy," lead author Dr. Bruce H. Dobkin, from
the University of California in Los Angeles, said in a

Through the use of a harness, BWSTT alleviates the need for
patients to maintain balance and support their weight while
walking skills are retrained.

The researchers believe that the comparability seen between
the approaches is due in large part to a high percentage of
moderately impaired subjects achieving better-than-expected
walking outcomes.

The researchers assessed the outcomes of 117 patients with
an acute incomplete spinal cord injury who were randomly
assigned to BWSTT or conventional mobility therapy for 12

At 6 months, the treatment groups achieved similar
"Functional Independence Measure of Locomotion" walking scores
and walking speeds, according to a report in the journal

Regardless of the treatment received, virtually all "less
impaired" patients were able to walk independently at 6 months.

SOURCE: Neurology, February 28, 2006.