Biomechanical mechanisms underlying exosuit-induced improvements in walking economy after stroke

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{Stroke-induced hemiparetic gait is characteristically asymmetric and metabolically expensive. Weakness and impaired control of the paretic ankle contribute to reduced forward propulsion and ground clearance—walking subtasks critical for safe and efficient locomotion. Targeted gait interventions that improve paretic ankle function after stroke are therefore warranted. We have developed textile-based, soft wearable robots that transmit mechanical power generated by off-board or body-worn actuators to the paretic ankle using Bowden cables (soft exosuits) and have demonstrated the exosuits can overcome deficits in paretic limb forward propulsion and ground clearance, ultimately reducing the metabolic cost of hemiparetic walking. This study elucidates the biomechanical mechanisms underlying exosuit-induced reductions in metabolic power. We evaluated the relationships between exosuit-induced changes in the body center of mass (COM) power generated by each limb, individual joint powers, and metabolic power. Compared to walking with an exosuit unpowered, exosuit assistance produced more symmetrical COM power generation during the critical period of the step-to-step transition (22.4±6.4% more symmetric). Changes in individual limb COM power were related to changes in paretic (R2= 0.83

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Last updated on 03/07/2018