The Effects of Robot-Assisted Gait Training Combined With Non-Invasive Brain Stimulation on Lower Limb Function in Patients With Stroke and Spinal Cord Injury: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

SOURCE: Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. 16 (no pagination), 2022. Article Number: 969036.


AUTHORS: Kuwahara W.; Sasaki S.; Yamamoto R.; Kawakami M.; Kaneko F.

This study aimed to investigate the effect of robot-assisted gait training (RAGT) therapy combined with non-invasive brain stimulation (NIBS) on lower limb function in patients with stroke and spinal cord injury (SCI).

DATA SOURCES: PubMed, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, Ovid MEDLINE, and Web of Science were searched. Study selection: Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) published as of 3 March 2021. RCTs evaluating RAGT combined with NIBS, such as transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) and repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS), for lower limb function (e.g., Fugl-Meyer assessment for patients with stroke) and activities (i.e., gait velocity) in patients
with stroke and SCI were included.

DATA EXTRACTION: Two reviewers independently screened the records, extracted the data, and assessed the risk of bias.

DATA SYNTHESIS: A meta-analysis of five studies (104 participants) and risk of bias were conducted. Pooled estimates demonstrated that RAGT combined with NIBS significantly improved lower limb function [standardized mean difference (SMD) = 0.52; 95% confidence interval (CI) = 0.06-0.99] but not lower limb activities (SMD = -0.13; 95% CI = -0.63-0.38). Subgroup analyses also failed to find a greater improvement in lower limb function of RAGT with tDCS compared to sham stimulation. No significant differences between participant characteristics or types of NIBS were observed.

CONCLUSION(S): This meta-analysis demonstrated that RAGT therapy in combination with NIBS was effective in patients with stroke and SCI. However, a greater improvement in lower limb function and activities were not observed using RAGT with tDCS compared to sham stimulation.