Effects of dynamic body weight support on functional independence measures in acute ischemic stroke: a retrospective cohort study

Justin Huber, Nicholas Elwert, Elizabeth Salmon Powell, Philip M. Westgate, Emily Hines, Lumy Sawaki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Stroke remains a major public health concern in the United States and a leading cause of long-term disability in adults. Dynamic body weight support (DBWS) systems are popular technology available for use in clinical settings such inpatient rehabilitation. However, there remains limited studies in such inpatient settings that compare DBWS to standard of care (SOC) using real world outcome measures. For survivors of acute ischemic stroke, we determine if incorporating a dynamic body weight support (DBWS) system into inpatient therapy offers greater improvement than standard of care (SOC). Methods: A retrospective chart review included 52 individuals with an acute ischemic stroke admitted to an inpatient rehabilitation facility. Functional Independence Measure (FIM) data, specifically changes in FIM at discharge, served as the primary outcome measure. Patient cohorts received either therapies per SOC or therapies incorporating DBWS. Regardless of cohort group, all patients underwent therapies for 3 h per day for 5 days a week. Results: For both groups, a statistically and clinically significant increase in total FIM (P < 0.0001) was observed at discharge compared to at admission. Improvements for the DBWS group were significantly greater than the SOC group as evidenced by higher gains in total FIM (p = 0.04) and this corresponded to a medium effect size (Cohen’s d = 0.58). Among FIM subscores, the DBWS group achieved a significant increase in sphincter control while all other subscore changes remained non-significant. Conclusions: This preliminary evidence supports the benefit of using DBWS during inpatient rehabilitation in individuals who have experienced an acute ischemic stroke. This may be due to the greater intensity and repetitions of tasks allowed by DBWS. These preliminary findings warrant further investigations on the use of DBWS in inpatient settings.

Original languageEnglish
Article number6
JournalJournal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was funded by the Cardinal Hill Rehabilitation Hospital Endowed Chair in Stroke and Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation (0705129700) and supported by the HealthSouth Therapy Grant. The funding body had no role in the collection, analysis and interpretation of data, or in writing the manuscript.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023, The Author(s).


  • Assistive technology
  • Cerebrovascular accident
  • Gait
  • Inpatient rehabilitation
  • Robotics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation
  • Health Informatics


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