Soft Exosuit for Paretic Ankle Assistance in Post-Stroke Gait Rehabilitation
CitationBae, Jaehyun. 2019. Soft Exosuit for Paretic Ankle Assistance in Post-Stroke Gait Rehabilitation. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University, Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.
AbstractIn the last decade, wearable robotics technology has been growing rapidly for various applications. One of the main drivers of this growth is recent research studies demonstrating that wearable robots could generate positive impact on human locomotion in both healthy and clinical populations. This dissertation highlights my contributions to the first soft wearable robots, called soft exosuits, designed to assist with paretic ankle function in post-stroke walking, the main contributor to their slow, asymmetric, and energetically inefficient gait. Through multi-disciplinary research with a team with diverse backgrounds in robotics, biomechanics, physical therapy, and apparel design, we developed multiple iterations of exosuits ranging from a tethered exosuit prototype for treadmill-based feasibility studies to a portable exosuit for clinical studies in overground walking and beyond. In order to ensure the design was suitable for the heterogenous post-stroke population, our team actively integrated user feedback from both patients and clinicians as well as experimental data collected from biomechanical experiments (human-in-the-loop development process). The result of a multi-phase iterative development process is a compact and portable exosuit with a robust controller that can deliver well-timed, biomechanically-appropriate assistance to a wide range of post-stroke patients without manual tuning. Through extensive human subject experiments and biomechanical analysis, we demonstrated that exosuits could improve energetic economy, symmetry, and gait speed in post-stroke walking. Given this foundational finding, our research led to a licensing agreement to ReWalk Robotics for the translation of soft exosuit technology to clinics. The foundational work presented herein demonstrates the potential of exosuit technology to improve post-stroke gait training.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:42013063
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