Supporting body weight and balance control are foundations of our ability to move and function independently. However, neurological disease, injury, and aging often threaten these prerequisites of functional independence, leading to a decrease in quality of life. In the United States alone, 7.5 million individuals have survived stroke, traumatic brain injury (TBI), or spinal cord injury (SCI), and over a million new patients are diagnosed every year [1–2]. To improve gait function in these patient populations, partial body weight-supported gait training is a widely-used rehabilitation therapy. In general, the therapeutic quality of partial body weight-supported gait training is directly proportional to the amount of time patients are able to tolerate an upright posture (either standing or walking). To achieve an upright posture, therapists must first attach a support system (e.g., gait belt, harness lift system, exoskeleton), then several therapists must assist the patient into a standing position. Depending on the patient’s level of impairment, several therapists may also be needed to support and assist the patient while standing and walking, then again to remove the support system at the end of therapy. Accordingly, multiple therapists are often needed to provide a small quantity of upright physical therapy time with standard support systems. Furthermore, use of standard support systems can be uncomfortable and fatiguing for the patient, further reducing their actual therapeutic treatment time [3].

This content is only available via PDF.