Realistic Expectations and Limitations in MS Rehab With Exoskeletons: Francois Bethoux, MD


The chair of Cleveland Clinic’s Department of Physical Medicine discussed the different ways a newly approved robotic exoskeleton can improve gait in patients with multiple sclerosis. [WATCH TIME: 4 minutes]

WATCH TIME: 4 minutes

"In being able to push exercise further with the use of a device like the exoskeleton, we hope to have a more sustained improvement of energy level. Of course, this must transition to a home exercise program. Again, there’s a continuity of treatment there. We hope to improve quality of life altogether, through improved ease of performing daily activities."

After a small, successful pilot study, researchers at Cleveland Clinic began to investigate the effects of a new robotic powered exoskeleton, EksoNR, as a rehabilitative tool to improve gait in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS). Data from the new retrospective study evaluating the exoskeleton was presented at the 2022 Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers (CMSC) Annual Meeting, June 1-4, in National Harbor, Maryland, less than 2 weeks before the device received FDA approval as the first to be greenlit for rehabilitation efforts in MS.

The real-world study included 21 patients who completed at least 3 sessions of gait training with the powered exoskeleton in a rehabilitation clinic between July 2019 and July 2021. All told, the data suggested that the device was safe and feasible in this patient cohort of severely walking limitations. Led by Francois Bethoux, MD, the change in clinical outcomes between the first and last sessions were highly variable among patients, prompting the need for future studies to investigate, the study authors concluded.

Bethoux, chair of Cleveland Clinic’s Department of Physical Medicine, sat down for an interview to discuss his personal observations from the study and the potential of the exoskeleton. He provided insight as to the specific capabilities and limitations of the device, and why it could have benefit for different ranges of disability.

Click here for more coverage of CMSC 2022.

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