Identification of Hip and Knee Joint Impedance During the Swing Phase of Walking

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Knowledge on joint impedance during walking in various conditions is relevant for clinical decision-making and the development of robotic gait trainers, leg prostheses, leg orthotics and wearable exoskeletons. Whereas ankle impedance during walking has been experimentally assessed, knee and hip joint impedance during walking have not been identified yet. Here we developed and evaluated a lower limb perturbator to identify hip, knee and ankle joint impedance during treadmill walking. The lower limb perturbator (LOPER) consists of an actuator connected to the thigh via rods. The LOPER allows to apply force perturbations to a free-hanging leg, while standing on the contralateral leg, with a bandwidth of up to 39 Hz. While walking in minimal impedance mode, the interaction forces between LOPER and the thigh were low (<5N) and the effect on the walking pattern was smaller than the within-subject variability during normal walking. Using a non-linear multibody dynamical model of swing leg dynamics, the hip, knee and ankle joint impedance were estimated at three time points during the swing phase for nine subjects walking at a speed of 0.5 m/s. The identified model was well able to predict the experimental responses for the hip and knee, since the mean variance accounted (VAF) for was 99% and 96%, respectively. The ankle lacked a consistent response and the mean VAF of the model fit was only 77%, and therefore the estimated ankle impedance was not reliable. The averaged across-subjects stiffness varied between the three time points within 34-66 and 0-3.5 Nm/rad Nm/rad for the hip and knee joint respectively. The damping varied between 1.9-4.6 and 0.02-0.14 Nms/rad Nms/rad for hip and knee respectively. The developed LOPER has a negligible effect on the unperturbed walking pattern and allows to identify hip and knee impedance during the swing phase.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1203-1212
Number of pages10
JournalIEEE transactions on neural systems and rehabilitation engineering
Publication statusPublished - 3 May 2022


  • Actuators
  • Force
  • Gait training
  • Hip
  • Hip stiffness
  • Impedance
  • Joint impedance
  • Knee
  • Knee stiffness
  • Legged locomotion
  • Perturbation methods
  • Stiffness
  • System identification
  • Transparency


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