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Bionic leg tests show promise for stroke recovery

Bionic leg tests show promise for stroke recovery
Bionic leg tests show promise for stroke recovery 01:32

After a stroke, many people have problems getting around. Scientists in England are working to get stroke patients back on their feet with the help of robotic technology. It's a bionic solution for stroke patients struggling to get moving again.

"We had a 10-week intervention program that we ran using an overground robotic training device, also known as a bionic leg," said Amy Wright, a biomechanics expert at the University of Portsmouth.

In a trial at England's University of Portsmouth, several dozen stroke patients having trouble walking were each given a bionic leg. 

A digital 3-D camera system tracked their progress.

"The leg understands and knows exactly when it needs to extend depending upon where the pressure is on a pressure insole," said Wright.

Researchers found giving bionic legs to people to use at home, alongside traditional physical therapy, sped up recovery.

"We saw confidence increase, we saw walking ability increase and therefore daily step count and activity increase from there for that group," said Wright.

The bionic leg gave one stroke patient bound to his wheelchair the strength to walk again.

"By the end of the 10-week program, he was able to walk around his home without a stick and no one around," said Wright.

Scientists say with the price-tag for robotic devices starting to drop, the idea of high-tech home-based rehabilitation is gaining momentum.

British researchers are planning to run larger clinical trials with more robotic devices to find out which ones are most helpful for stroke patients.

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