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"Walking" therapies good for spinal cord injury

February 28, 2006

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 statement.

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 weeks.

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 Neurology.

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

Original source: http://today.reuters.co.uk

 

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