The Effect of a Physical Training with the Use of an Exoskeleton on Depression Levels in Institutionalized Elderly Patients: A Pilot Study
The Human Body Posturizer (HBP) is an exoskeleton used in the neurorehabilitation. The HBP may improve motor control by stimulating the pre-frontal cortex, a brain region involved also in the inhibitory modulation of the amygdala whose hyperactivity is involved in the mechanisms of depression.
The aim of the study was to investigate in institutionalized elderly patients the effects on depression of a physical training with the use of the HBP compared to a traditional training.
Randomized controlled trial.
20 institutionalized patients (mean age = 88, ds = ± 5, 3 males) with moderate depression levels.
The participants were randomly assigned to: a) HBP Group, which carried out physical training using the HBP; b) Excercise Group, which carried out a training without the use of the orthosis. The training was conducted for 6 months (3 sessions each week), with the same kind of exercises with or without the HBP according to the assignment group.
Participants were evaluated at baseline using the Tinetti balance and Gait scale, the Mini Mental State Examination and the Geriatric Handicap Scale. The Geriatric Depression Scale was administered to the participants before and after the period of training. RESULTS: The two groups were homogeneous for age, baseline motor ability (risk falls), handicap score, cognitive functioning and depression levels. After 6 months of exercise training a significant reduction in depression levels was reported only in the HBP Group (p <.01).
A positive effect of the HBP in the modulation of mood in institutionalized elderly subjects was found. It is possible to hypothesis that a traditional training without the HBP may require more time to achieve significant results. Clinical implications will be discussed.
Key wordsDepression exercise training Human Body Posturizer elderly rehabilitation
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