Locomotor Recovery Following Traumatic Brain Injury

  • End date
    Dec 31, 2022
  • participants needed
  • sponsor
    Indiana University
Updated on 25 January 2021
traumatic brain injury


The purpose of this study is to investigate the effectiveness of two different walking training interventions on the recovery of strength, mobility, walking and other measures of health in individuals following traumatic brain injury. During this study, participants will aim to complete up to 15 training sessions over 4-5 weeks of each intervention with at least a 4 week break between interventions. Each training session will last approximately 1 hour, while testing sessions performed at the beginning and end of each intervention will last approximately 3-4 hours. Participation in this research study may last up to 6 months including screening and baseline testing. The possible benefits to participant from participation in this study include increased strength of the participants leg muscles and improved walking ability


The primary goal of the proposed study is to identify the contributions of the amount of task-specific practice on locomotor (i.e., walking) recovery in patients with (> 6 Months) traumatic brain injury (TBI). The investigator will do this by building on our previous work directed towards identifying the essential exercise training parameters that maximize locomotor recovery. Consistent with principles of motor learning and exercise physiology, the investigator contend that certain training (i.e., dosage) parameters of physical rehabilitation, including the type (specificity) and amount of task practice, are critical to mobility outcomes following neurological injury. Previous work suggests these training parameters may influence locomotor recovery in patients with other neurological disorders (i.e., stroke), although few studies have attempted to delineate similar contributions of amount of task-specific practice in neurologic injury. Indeed, no studies have carefully controlled these training parameters during physical rehabilitation of patients with neurologic injury, and such interventions are rarely utilized in the clinical setting. Reasons for these knowledge gaps from other rehabilitation studies to patients with neurologic injury or lack of clinical implementation are unclear, but may be due to adherence to traditional rehabilitation theories. One concern is that practicing only stepping tasks reduces attention towards hallmark physical impairments following neurologic injury, such as loss of strength or postural stability, which are considered primary determinants of decreased mobility. Only a few studies have addressed whether providing only structured stepping training can mitigate these impairments without their explicit practice, but not in the neurologic injury population. A related concern is that focused stepping training without significant attention towards impairments or gait quality may exaggerate altered movement strategies, which could be reinforced with repeated practice. However, there is little data to suggest "worsening" of abnormal gait patterns following high intensity training. Rather, recent findings suggest patients demonstrate more normal kinematics. If focused task specific (i.e., stepping) training is to be applied clinically, participant must delineate its contributions towards improving locomotor function, and their effects on underlying impairments and gait kinematics.

Central hypotheses are that stepping training in TBI results in:1) greater locomotor gains as compared to non-specific interventions; 2) gains in selected impairments underlying gait dysfunction (i.e., strength and metabolic capacity and efficiency); and, 3) improvements in gait quality. To test these hypotheses, the proposed crossover, assessor-blinded, randomized clinical trial (RCT) is designed to test the effects of specificity of rehabilitation training applied early-post-stroke. In this RCT, patients > 6 post-TBI will be allocated 15 sessions over approximately 4-5 weeks of high-intensity stepping training or conventional therapy. Importantly, training intensity will be held constant to account for this potential confounding factor. Blinded assessments will be performed prior to and following each training paradigm.

Condition Brain Injury, Traumatic Brain Injury, Brain Injuries, Traumatic, traumatic brain injury (tbi)
Treatment Conventional therapy, High Intensity Stepping Training
Clinical Study IdentifierNCT04503473
SponsorIndiana University
Last Modified on25 January 2021


Yes No Not Sure

Inclusion Criteria

> 6 months post traumatic brain injury
-75 years old
ability to walk without physical assistance
Self selected walking speed of 0.01-1.0 m/s

Exclusion Criteria

<18 years old
>75 years old
self selected walking speed of > 1.0 m/s
< 3 months from botulinum toxin injection
Above the knee brace
Currently receiving physical therapy
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