To determine whether repeat exposure to force perturbations during treadmill training
can induce long-term retention of improved step length and overall improvements in locomotor function in persons with spinal cord injury
Fourteen patients with spinal cord injury
were recruited and randomly assigned to swing resistance or swing assistance training groups. A controlled swing resistance or assistance force, for resistance or assistance training groups, respectively, was applied to both legs through a cable-driven robotic system during treadmill training
. Each participant trained 3 times per week for 6 weeks. Step length, walking speed, 6-minute walking distance, and other clinical assessments were evaluated before and after 6 weeks of training and 8 weeks after the end of training.
A significant increase in step length was observed after 6 weeks of resistance training (P
= 0.04). Step length tended to increase after assistance treadmill training
, but the change was not significant (P
= 0.18). The changes in step length and functional gains had no significant difference between 2 groups.
Repeat exposure to swing resistance during treadmill training
may induce a prolonged retention of increased step length, although it remains unclear whether swing resistance versus assistance is more effective in inducing increased step length.