“Assist as needed” control algorithms promote activity of patients during robotic gait training. Implementing these requires a free walking mode of a device, as unassisted motions should not be hindered. The goal of this study was to assess the normality of walking in the free walking mode of the LOPES gait trainer, an 8 degrees-of-freedom lightweight impedance controlled exoskeleton. Kinematics, gait parameters and muscle activity of walking in a free walking mode in the device were compared with those of walking freely on a treadmill. Average values and variability of the spatio-temporal gait variables showed no or small (relative to cycle-to-cycle variability) changes and the kinematics showed a significant and relevant decrease in knee angle range only. Muscles involved in push off showed a small decrease, whereas muscles involved in acceleration and deceleration of the swing leg showed an increase of their activity. Timing of the activity was mainly unaffected. Most of the observed differences could be ascribed to the inertia of the exoskeleton. Overall, walking with the LOPES resembled free walking, although this required several adaptations in muscle activity. These adaptations are such that we expect that Assist as Needed training can be implemented in LOPES.
|Number of pages||11|
|Journal||IEEE transactions on neural systems and rehabilitation engineering|
|Publication status||Published - 2008|