Tapping into skeletal muscle biomechanics for design and control of lower-limb exoskeletons: A narrative review

Zahra S. Mahdian, Huawei Wang, Mohamed Irfan Refai, G.V. Durandau, M. Sartori, Rai MacLean*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
180 Downloads (Pure)


Lower limb exoskeletons and exosuits (“exos”) are traditionally designed with a strong focus on mechatronics and actuation, whereas the “human side” is often disregarded or minimally modeled. Muscle biomechanics principles and skeletal muscle response to robot-delivered loads should be incorporated in design/control of exos. In this narrative review, we summarize the advances in literature with respect to the fusion of muscle biomechanics and lower limb exoskeletons. We report methods to measure muscle biomechanics directly and indirectly and summarize the studies that have incorporated muscle measures for improved design and control of intuitive lower limb exos. Finally, we delve into articles that have studied how the human-exo interaction influences muscle biomechanics during locomotion. To support neurorehabilitation and facilitate everyday use of wearable assistive technologies, we believe that future studies should investigate and predict how exoskeleton assistance strategies would structurally remodel skeletal muscle over time. Real-time mapping of the neuromechanical origin and generation of muscle force resulting in joint torques should be combined with musculoskeletal models to address time-varying parameters such as adaptation to exos and fatigue. Development of smarter predictive controllers that steer rather than assist biological components could result in a synchronized human-machine system that optimizes the biological and electromechanical performance of the combined system.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)318-333
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of applied biomechanics
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2023


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