The results of the first clinical study of the benefits of YouKicker in the treatment of spinal cord injury patients are in, and they are positive.
YouKicker, an interactive therapy device designed by the Swiss rehabilitation technology leader YouRehab, has a beneficial effect in spinal cord injury rehabilitation in patients suffering from chronic incomplete spiral cord injuries. This was revealed in a new study published in Neurorehabilitation and Neural Repair Journal.
YouKicker is a wearable rehabilitation device designed for lower limb training and particularly useful in therapy as it uses leading rehabilitation gaming technology to improve clinical outcomes and motivate patients to exercise. At the same time, the device allows therapists to analyse data, measure limb movement, and monitor patients’ progress.
YouKicker supports virtual mirror therapy and offers several different therapy modes and individually adjustable difficulty levels. It also has a Virtual Assistance mode, which makes it possible even for patients with extremely limited movement to train. The software that comes with the device provides a complete analysis of game difficulty, scoring, and lower limb movements, and the games are specifically designed for lower limb therapy. YouKicker is a result of extensive research conducted at the University of Zurich and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETH Zurich), and has won multiple awards for the positive effect it has in rehabilitation.
The latest study, conducted at the University Hospital Balgrist in Zurich, aimed to investigate whether intense virtual reality-augmented training of leg movements would result in improved limb function and reduced neuropathic pain in chronic incomplete spinal cord injury (iSCI) patients. The patients participating in the study used a virtual reality system to perform four tasks to deliver intensive training of four different muscles. They had a first-person view of virtual legs, controlled by movement sensors attached to their shoes. The muscles involved were tibialis anterior, quadriceps, and leg ad-/abductors, and the tasks that the patients performed engaged their motivation by providing feedback about task success. The chronic iSCI patients were treated over a period of four weeks in 16 to 20 therapy sessions lasting 45 minutes.
After four weeks, patients reported positive changes. The researchers found improvements in the patients’ lower limb function after measuring their strength, balance, and walking capacity. The study also revealed that half of the patients experienced a reduction in the intensity of neuropathic pain. The findings of the study remained stable for 12 to 16 weeks after training had ended.
YouKicker has a number of advantages in rehabilitation, going beyond the results of the study. It allows therapists to train two or three patients at a time with partial supervision. Patients at all stages of recovery can use the device and achieve up to 500 movement repetitions per each training session, which typically lasts 45 minutes, and therapists can monitor improvements in patients’ performance over time. The sensor shoes adjust easily to almost all shoe sizes and make it possible to track lower leg and foot angles, and the software offers different training applications for different muscle groups. YouKicker provides patients with a fun, playful way to exercise, and allows them to see improvements in their performance, which provides additional motivation for them to keep training. To see how the device is used in rehabilitation, watch the video.
YouRehab, founded in 2010 as a spin-off of the Institute of Neuroinformatics and the ETH Zurich, is a leader in rehabilitation technology development, combining expertise in neuroscience, biomedical engineering, therapy, computer science, and manufacturing. Aside from YouKicker, which has proven benefits in lower limb training, the company has also developed YouGrabber, the only therapy product on the market designed for upper limb rehabilitation. We will write more about the advantages of YouGrabber in another article.