Physiological responses and energy cost of walking on the Gait Trainer with and without body weight support in subacute stroke patients

Anna Sofia Delussu, Giovanni Morone, Marco Iosa, Maura Bragoni, Marco Traballesi, Stefano Paolucci

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Robotic-assisted walking after stroke provides intensive task-oriented training. But, despite the growing diffusion of robotic devices little information is available about cardiorespiratory and metabolic responses during electromechanically-assisted repetitive walking exercise. Aim of the study was to determine whether use of an end-effector gait training (GT) machine with body weight support (BWS) would affect physiological responses and energy cost of walking (ECW) in subacute post-stroke hemiplegic patients. Methods. Participants: six patients (patient group: PG) with hemiplegia due to stroke (age: 66 ± 15y; time since stroke: 8 ± 3 weeks; four men) and 6 healthy subjects as control group (CG: age, 76 ± 7y; six men). Interventions: overground walking test (OWT) and GT-assisted walking with 0%, 30% and 50% BWS (GT-BWS0%, 30% and 50%). Main Outcome Measures: heart rate (HR), pulmonary ventilation, oxygen consumption, respiratory exchange ratio (RER) and ECW. Results: Intervention conditions significantly affected parameter values in steady state (HR: p = 0.005, V'E: p = 0.001, V'O2: p <0.001) and the interaction condition per group affected ECW (p = 0.002). For PG, the most energy (V'O2 and ECW) demanding conditions were OWT and GT-BWS0%. On the contrary, for CG the least demanding condition was OWT. On the GT, increasing BWS produced a decrease in energy and cardiac demand in both groups. Conclusions: In PG, GT-BWS walking resulted in less cardiometabolic demand than overground walking. This suggests that GT-BWS walking training might be safer than overground walking training in subacute stroke patients.

Original languageEnglish
Article number54
JournalJournal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Apr 10 2014


  • Energy cost of walking
  • Gait
  • Robotic training
  • Stroke rehabilitation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation
  • Health Informatics


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