Biomechanical and Physiological Evaluation of Multi-Joint Assistance With Soft Exosuits

February 24, 2017

Ye Ding, Ignacio Galiana, Alan T. Asbeck, Stefano Marco Maria De Rossi, Jaehyun Bae, Thiago Ribeiro Teles Santos, Vanessa Lara de Araújo, Sangjun Lee, Kenneth G. Holt, Conor Walsh

Biomechanical and Physiological Evaluation of Multi-Joint Assistance With Soft Exosuits

To understand the effects of soft exosuits on human loaded walking, we developed a reconfigurable multi-joint actuation platform that can provide synchronized forces to the ankle and hip joints. Two different assistive strategies were evaluated on eight subjects walking on a treadmill at a speed of 1.25 m/s with a 23.8 kg backpack: 1) hip extension assistance and 2) multi-joint assistance (hip extension, ankle plantarflexion and hip flexion). Results show that the exosuit introduces minimum changes to kinematics and reduces biological joint moments. A reduction trend in muscular activity was observed for both conditions. On average, the exosuit reduced the metabolic cost of walking by 0.21 ± 0.04 and 0.67 ± 0.09 W/kg for hip extension assistance and multi-joint assistance respectively, which is equivalent to an average metabolic reduction of 4.6% and 14.6%, demonstrating that soft exosuits can effectively improve human walking efficiency during load carriage without affecting natural walking gait. Moreover, it indicates that actuating multiple joints with soft exosuits provides a significant benefit to muscular activity and metabolic cost compared to actuating single joint.

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