A wide variety of mechanical orthoses is available to provide ambulation to paraplegic patients. Evaluation of energy cost during walking in each of these devices has been acknowledged as an important topic in this field of research. In order to investigate the benefits of a ballistic swing on gait performance in the Advanced Reciprocating Gait Orthosis (ARGO) a study was conducted in which the ARGO was compared with an orthosis with freely swinging legs. This Non Reciprocally linked Orthosis (NRO) was obtained by removing the reciprocal linkage in the subjects' own ARGOs. Subsequently, flexion/extension limits were mounted to permit adjustment of stride length. Six male paraplegic subjects with lesions ranging from T4 to T12 were included in the study. A single case experimental design (B-A-B-A) was conducted in order to improve internal validity. Biomechanical and physiological parameters were assessed and the subjects' preference for either ARGO or NRO was determined. It was found that large inter-individual differences produced insufficient evidence in this study to draw general conclusions about difference in energy expenditure between both orthoses. However, individual analysis of the results showed a reduction of oxygen cost (range: 4%-14%) in the NRO in T9 and T12 lesions, while oxygen cost in subjects with T4 lesions increased markedly (22% and 40%). It is concluded that patients with low level lesions could benefit in terms of oxygen lost from removing the reciprocal cable linkage in the ARGO. However, only one subject preferred the NRO for walking, whereas none of the subject chose the NRO for use in daily living activities. Removal of the reciprocal cable linkage in the ARGO may not be desirable for these patients.
IJzerman, M. J., Baardman, G., Hermens, H. J., Veltink, P. H., Boom, H. B. K., Zilvold, G., & Zilvold, G. (1997). The influence of the reciprocal cable linkage in the advanced reciprocating gait orthosis on paraplegic gait performance. Prosthetics and orthotics international, 21(1), 52-61. https://doi.org/10.3109/03093649709164530