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A Robotic Gait Training System with Stair-climbing Mode Based on a Unique Exoskeleton Structure with Active Foot Plates

EunKyung Bae, Sang-Eun Park, Youngjin Moon, In Taek Chun, Min Ho Chun*, and Jaesoon Choi*
International Journal of Control, Automation, and Systems, vol. 18, no. 1, pp.196-205, 2020

Abstract : This paper introduces a newly developed robotic gait training system for lower-limb rehabilitation of stroke patients. The system (Cyborg-Trainer L; Cyborg-Lab Co., Korea) provides a stair-climbing mode in addition to the conventional level-walking mode by leveraging a unique exoskeleton structure with separately operable foot plates. Unlike conventional end-effector type gait training robots, the subject’s feet are not constrained by foot plates, but are free to emulate the ground or a set of stairs. The ground reaction force is measured by force sensors in the foot plates and utilized to compensate for the vertical movement of pelvis. The exoskeleton structures are connected at hip, knee, and ankle joints, and these can support a patient’s weight to ensure a normal gait pattern. The system has four control modes with different levels of assistive or resistance force. To show the feasibility of the developed training mode, a series of experiments measuring muscle activity were conducted during 1) level-walking with the robot, 2) level-walking on a treadmill without a robot, 3) stair-climbing with the robot, and 4) actual stairclimbing without a robot. The muscle activation from the rectus femoris, biceps femoris, tibialis anterior, and gastrocnemius medialis of the dominant leg of five healthy adults were measured and analyzed. Results showed that all muscles had a rhythmic muscle activation pattern. Even though muscle activation patterns were different between gaits using the robotic gait system and those not using it, reduced amplitudes and phasic muscle activations were observed during the training in the robotic system. The developed system is a new type of robotic gait training system that could induce phasic lower limb muscle activation patterns, and its clinical efficacy will be validated in clinical trials after regulatory approval.

Keyword : Exoskeleton, gait training, lower-limb rehabilitation, rehabilitation robot, stair-climbing

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