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Quantifying the user experience, as well as neural, muscular, and functional gait changes following exoskeleton-powered gait rehabilitation in children with CP and other mobility impairments

Our Trexo research is body-wide in scope, looking at impact on the brain, muscles, and functional movements of upper and lower body and child engagement in physical activity. This research is a collaboration between BRI’s PRISM and SPARK Labs. Primary funding for the project is from the CP Alliance Research Foundation, the Kimel Family Pediatric Rehabilitation Graduate Student Scholarship, and Holland Bloorview Centre for Leadership. We are using our new Trexo exoskeleton that was generously donated by the Holland Bloorview Foundation. 

Our initial Trexo exoskeleton feasibility study is with children ages 3 to 6 years who have cerebral palsy who require extensive external support to take steps. We are enrolling 10 children in this single group study evaluating children using the Trexo in physiotherapy sessions over a 6 week (twice weekly) period. This feasibility study that is taking place until the end of December 2023 in partnership with physiotherapists and physiotherapy assistants in the Child Development Program and Bloorview School Authority (IET) is co-led by doctoral candidate Stefanie Bradley and Dr Virginia Wright and Dr Tom Chau.

How our current Trexo study is unique:

  • The Trexo has been used and studied as a home device so far. Our study is an early-stage trial that is looking at how it can be adopted in school and hospital outpatient settings. This centre based use has the potential to ultimately broaden its access and opportunity to a wider group of children. 
  • This ‘hands-on’ research gives us a chance to directly see how well children move in the Trexo in larger spaces outside of the home. We will also learn what kinds of activities they are able to do in the Trexo during the study’s physiotherapy sessions provided by our child development expert Holland Bloorview out-patient and school teams. 
  • Our Trexo research is body-wide in scope, looking at impact on the brain, muscles, and functional movements of upper and lower body and child engagement in physical activity
  • We’re addressing important safety and feasibility questions and are collecting parent, child, and physiotherapist feedback to learn from the users’ perspectives. 

Goals of this study:

  1. Establish evidence-based knowledge about Trexo use with this very important demographic of 3 to 6 year old children with cerebral palsy who require maximal physical support to take steps and walk even very short distances
  2. Provide upright standing, healthy movement patterns within the Trexo to open the door to physical activity participation opportunities that haven’t been experienced before by these children 
  3. Understand the mechanisms and impact of brain changes and muscle training during a 6-weeks of physiotherapy that focuses on walking activities in the Trexo. . 
  4. Ease integration of this new robotic device into settings such as schools, hospitals, and clinics; help build a training program for physiotherapists and physiotherapy assistants
  5. Provide a foundation for larger multi-center studies in the future

Click here to read about the story.

Co-Principal Investigators

Stefanie Bradley, Tom Chau, and Virginia Wright

Research Team

Gloria Lee, Research Manager
Martina Coulas, Research Student (Spring 2023)
Keira Tanner, Summer Research Student (2023)
Jackie Cotton, Amber Gill ,Andrea Norton, Andrea Rabel– Trexo Physiotherapist Team
Robert Dickson, Britney Harrison, Jamie Petsinis -Trexo Physiotherapist Assistant Team

Media mentions

A summary of media mentioning Trexo and how the study becomes next generation of tool to help disability kids.