Content » Vol 49, Issue 1

Case report

Effect on body composition and bone mineral density of walking with a robotic exoskeleton in adults with chronic spinal cord injury

Antony D. Karelis, Lívia Pinheiro Carvalho, Manuel Jose Escalona Castillo, Dany H. Gagnon, Mylène Aubertin-Leheudre
Exercise Science, Université du Québec à Montréal, Montreal, Canada. E-mail:
DOI: 10.2340/16501977-2173


Objective: To examine the effect on body composition and bone mineral density of locomotor training using a robotic exoskeleton in individuals with spinal cord injury.
Study design: Interventional study.
Subjects/methods: Five adults with a non-progressive traumatic complete sensorimotor spinal cord injury who were using a wheelchair as a primary mode of mobility. Participants performed a personalized 6-week progressive locomotor training programme using a robotic exoskeleton 3 times/week for up to 60 min. Body composition measures were determined using dual energy X-ray absorptiometry and peripheral quantitative computed tomography.
Results: A significant increase in leg and appendicular lean body mass and a decrease in total, leg and appendicular fat mass was observed after the intervention. Furthermore, the calf muscle cross-sectional area increased significantly after the intervention. Finally, although not statistically significant, there was an increase of 14.5% in bone mineral density of the tibia, which may be clinically significant. A decrease of > 5 % was also noted for subcutaneous adipose tissue and intramuscular adipose tissue.
Conclusion: Locomotor training using a robotic exoskeleton appears to be associated with improvements in body composition and, potentially, bone health.

Lay Abstract


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