The iStride was developed as a tool that could be used both in rehab and out, Reed said. It’s a portable device that’s strapped over the shoe of a patient’s “good leg” and generates a backward motion, exaggerating the step and making it harder to walk while wearing the shoe. The movement is awkward, but it strengthens the leg most impacted by a patient’s stroke, allowing for a smoother and more even gait when the iStride is removed.
“The backward motion of the shoe is generated passively by redirecting the wearer’s downward force during stance phase,” Reed said. “Since the motion is generated by the wearer’s force, the person is in control, which allows easier adaptation to the motion. Unlike many of the existing gait rehabilitation devices, this device is passive, portable, wearable and does not require any external energy.”
In his study of six patients aged between 57 and 74, all of whom had suffered a cerebral stroke within the past year and had asymmetry severe enough to impact their walking ability, Reed and his colleagues tracked the iStride’s success. Each patient received a dozen 30-minute gait training sessions with the shoe for four weeks, and their progress was measured using the ProtoKinetics Zeno Walkway system.