Gait, coordination, and balance may be severely compromised in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS), with considerable consequences on the patient's daily living activities, psychological status and quality of life. For this reason, MS patients may benefit from robotic-rehabilitation and virtual reality training sessions. Aim of the present study was to assess the efficacy of robot-assisted gait training (RAGT) equipped with virtual reality (VR) system in MS patients with walking disabilities (EDSS 4.0 to 5.5) as compared to RAGT without VR. We enrolled 40 patients (randomized into two groups) undergoing forty RAGT±VR sessions over eight weeks. All the patients were assessed at baseline and at the end of the treatment by using specific scales. Effect sizes were very small and non-significant between the groups for Berg Balance Scale (-0.019, CI95% -2.403 to 2.365) and TUG (-0.064, 95%CI -0.408 to 0.536) favoring RAGT+VR. Effects were moderate-to-large and significant for positive attitude (-0.505, 95%CI -3.615 to 2.604) and problem-solving (-0.905, 95%CI -2.113 to 0.302) sub-items of Coping Orientation to Problem Experienced, thus largely favoring RAGT+VR. Our findings show that RAGT combined with VR is an effective therapeutic option in MS patients with walking disability as compared to RAGT without VR. We may hypothesize that VR may strengthen RAGT thanks to the entrainment of different brain areas involved in motor panning and learning.
- Journal Article