Assessing Early Evidence, Long-Term Potential of EksoRN Robotic Exoskeleton: Francois Bethoux, MD


The chair of Cleveland Clinic’s Department of Physical Medicine detailed a pilot study on the rehabilitative impacts of the EksoRN robotic exoskeleton in patients with multiple sclerosis. [WATCH TIME: 5 minutes]

WATCH TIME: 5 minutes

"We’ve seen, anecdotally, some of our patients who could walk [only] from the living room to the bathroom or from the bedroom to the bathroom. After training, they are able to walk around their home and venture a few steps outside. That’s a huge difference.”

For patients with multiple sclerosis (MS), fatigue is one of the most experienced symptoms, occurring in about 80% of patients. The symptom can significantly interfere with an individual’s ability to function at home and work and is one of the primary causes of early departure from the workforce. To address the walking limitations caused by the disease, researchers have tried to tap into new modalities, including the EksoRN robotic exoskeleton, which became the first such device to be FDA-approved for rehabilitation efforts in MS in mid-June 2022.

In 2019, Cleveland Clinic launched a pilot study designed to explore the extension of the powered exoskeleton and its assistance with gait rehabilitation in people with MS. The study was intended to expand the limited literature of exoskeletons in these patients, which, to the study investigators knowledge, had only been assessed in a small study once before. Lead investigator Francois Bethoux, MD, presented results of the study at the 2022 Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers (CMSC) Annual Meeting, June 1-4, in National Harbor, Maryland, which included 21 patients with MS who participated in at least 3 sessions of gait training.

At the conclusion of the analysis, results showed statistically significant increases in walk time (P = .008), number of steps (P = .011), and programmed step length (P <.001) following exoskeleton use.1 In an interview with NeurologyLive®, Bethoux, chair of Cleveland Clinic’s Department of Physical Medicine, detailed the critical take-home points of the findings, along with how the preliminary study helped shape these efforts.

1. Bethoux F, Stallkamp S, Thompson N, Linder SM. Feasibility and outcomes of gait training with a powered exoskeleton in individuals with multiple sclerosis. Presented at: CMSC Annual Meeting, 2022; June 1-4; National Harbor, MD. REH03
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