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Vol. 37 No. 6, November/December 2000

A multi-purpose rehabilitation frame: A novel apparatus for balance training during standing of neurologically impaired individuals

Zlatko Matjacic, PhD; Inger Lauge Johannesen, MD; Thomas Sinkjaer, PhD

Center for Sensory-Motor Interaction, Aalborg University, Aalborg, Denmark; Spinal Unit, Viborg Hospital, Viborg, Denmark

Abstract — We present a novel mechanical apparatus, named Multi-purpose Rehabilitation Frame (MRF), and methods for balance training during standing of neurologically impaired individuals. The device has two degrees of freedom (DOF), which allow for constrained movement of both lower limbs and pelvis in the sagittal and frontal planes. The MRF aims at improving balancing in impaired individuals by providing a stiffness support and action of perturbations, which facilitate development of alternative balancing strategies. The level of stiffness support and strength of perturbations, which are generated by means of two hydraulic servo-controlled actuators, can be selected according to current balancing abilities of an impaired individual. We further present preliminary results of nine days of balance training in two paraplegic and two incomplete tetraplegic subjects standing in the MRF. All subjects improved their balancing abilities as measured from the level of needed supporting stiffness provided by the MRF.

Key words: balance, neurological impairment, neurological rehabilitation, standing, therapy

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