Feasibility and Safety of a Powered Exoskeleton for Assisted Walking for Persons With Multiple Sclerosis: A Single-Group Preliminary Study

Allan J. Kozlowski, Michelle Fabian, Dipan Lad, Andrew D. Delgado

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38 Scopus citations


Objective To examine the feasibility, safety, and secondary benefit potential of exoskeleton-assisted walking with one device for persons with multiple sclerosis (MS). Design Single-group longitudinal preliminary study with 8-week baseline, 8-week intervention, and 4-week follow-up. Setting Outpatient MS clinic, tertiary care hospital. Participants Participants (N=13; age range, 38–62y) were mostly women with Expanded Disability Status Scale scores ranging from 5.5 to 7.0. Intervention Exoskeleton-assisted walk training. Main Outcome Measures Primary outcomes were accessibility (enrollment/screen pass), tolerability (completion/dropout), learnability (time to event for standing, walking, and sitting with little or no assistance), acceptability (satisfaction on the device subscale of the Quebec User Evaluation of Satisfaction with Assistive Technology version 2), and safety (event rates standardized to person-time exposure in the powered exoskeleton). Secondary outcomes were walking without the device (timed 25-foot walk test and 6-minute walk test distance), spasticity (Modified Ashworth Scale), and health-related quality of life (Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement and Information System pain interference and Quality of Life in Neurological Conditions fatigue, sleep disturbance, depression, and positive affect and well-being). Results The device was accessible to 11 and tolerated by 5 participants. Learnability was moderate, with 5 to 15 sessions required to walk with minimal assistance. Safety was good; the highest adverse event rate was for skin issues at 151 per 1000 hours' exposure. Acceptability ranged from not very satisfied to very satisfied. Participants who walked routinely improved qualitatively on sitting, standing, or walking posture. Two participants improved and 2 worsened on ≥1 quality of life domain. The pattern of spasticity scores may indicate potential benefit. Conclusions The device appeared feasible and safe for about a third of our sample, for whom routine exoskeleton-assisted walking may offer secondary benefits.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1300-1307
Number of pages8
JournalArchives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2017


  • Exoskeleton device
  • Feasibility studies
  • Mobility limitation
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Rehabilitation
  • Safety


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