Gait Robotics Improves Mobility, Mood, and Cognition in Seniors with Parkinson’s Disease


Award Date: 2018

Project Lead(s): Pearl Gryfe, Clinical and Managing Director Assistive Technology Clinic at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre and Baycrest Ctr.

Project Title: Using Gait Robotics to Improve Mood and Cognition in Seniors with Parkinson’s Disease

What is the issue?

Parkinson’s disease is a movement disorder that impairs mobility and increases the risk of falls. Individuals with the disease also experience cognitive decline. Research has shown that physical activity improves cognition, mood, and overall function. However, people with the disease often find exercise difficult as they fear falling or are unmotivated due to depression. Robotic exoskeletons may help these individuals age in place longer.

What did we do?

We tested and evaluated the Keego-Rehab™ exoskeleton with 47 individuals living with various stages of Parkinson’s disease. We placed them randomly into three groups. The first group received the exoskeleton and traditional exercises. The second group received standard exercises alone. The third group was a comparison group and did not receive any exercises. We collected results over a three-month study period.

What did we find?

Our study was the first to assess the use of an exoskeleton as a way of delivering an exercise program to people experiencing cognitive decline. Study participants in the robotic gait training group with exercises showed improved memory and walking endurance compared to those in the exercise-only group and the no-exercise comparison group.