Understanding motor recovery in subacute stroke using split-belt treadmill and virtual reality.


This study is looking at how people with post-stroke impaired walking acquire a new walking pattern during rehabilitation within the first 6 months of a stroke. A common way to improve gait and walking in patients who have neurological injuries employs treadmill walking with body weight support. However, treadmill walking has been criticized for a lack of patient engagement. Our lab uses a specially instrumented treadmill called the split-belt treadmill in conjunction with a virtual reality system to improve patient engagement. A split-belt treadmill typically has two belts that each move at a different speed, allowing the affected leg to move at a different speed than the unaffected leg. This is not possible in conventional treadmill training.

Using this novel virtual reality-assisted split-belt treadmill allows us to motivate patients through an engaging form of rehabilitation to improve the recovery of motor, visual, and cognitive functions. We want to look at how safe the new virtual reality platform is for rehabilitation and assess patient satisfaction and motivation while interacting with virtual environments. We will also collect information on how healthy people and people with different neurological injuries perform on the different virtual reality tasks while relearning a new walking pattern. We hope that the results of this work will help move towards better therapies for stroke survivors with lower extremity deficits.


Currently recruiting participants: Yes

Eligible gender: Male, Female, Transgender, Other

Eligible ages: 18 to 99

Accepts healthy participants: Yes

Inclusion criteria:

Stroke participants are eligible if:

1) It is their first stroke

2) They are over 18 years old

3) They are between 1 week and 3 months post-stroke

4) They can understand task instructions

Control participants will be included if:
1) They are over 18 years old

2) They have no history of neurological disease

3) They have no history of musculoskeletal disorders that could potentially affect their ability to walk

4) They have no recent injuries that affect their walking at a comfortable pace

Exclusion criteria:

Stroke participants are not eligible to participate if they have:

1) Any history of other neurological diseases (eg. epilepsy, brain tumor, injury to brain stem)

2) Orthopedic issues in lower extremities

3) Excessive pain in the body preventing participation in a treadmill-based exercise intervention


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Method of contact

Additional information

Contact information

Deepthi Rajashekar, Postdoctoral Associate, Neuro Robot Lab, Clinical Neurosciences, Cumming School of Medicine, University of Calgary, Canada.

Principal investigator:

Sean Dukelow

Clinical trial: