Design and Characterization of an Exoskeleton for Perturbing the Knee During Gait

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Tucker, Michael R
Shirota, Camila
Lambercy, Olivier
Sulzer, James S
Gassert, Roger
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2017
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Abstract

Objective: An improved understanding of mechanical impedance modulation in human joints would provide insights about the neuromechanics underlying functional movements. Experimental estimation of impedance requires specialized tools with highly reproducible perturbation dynamics and reliable measurement capabilities. This paper presents the design and mechanical characterization of the ETH Knee Perturbator: An actuated exoskeleton for perturbing the knee during gait. Methods: A novel wearable perturbation device was developed based on specific experimental objectives. Bench-Top tests validated the device's torque limiting capability and characterized the time delays of the on-board clutch. Further tests demonstrated the device's ability to perform system identification on passive loads with static initial conditions. Finally, the ability of the device to consistently perturb human gait was evaluated through a pilot study on three unimpaired subjects. Results: The ETH Knee Perturbator is capable of identifying mass-spring systems within 15% accuracy, accounting for over 95% of the variance in the observed torque in 10 out of 16 cases. Five-degree extension and flexion perturbations were executed on human subjects with an onset timing precision of 2.52% of swing phase duration and a rise time of 36.5 ms. Conclusion: The ETH Knee Perturbator can deliver safe, precisely timed, and controlled perturbations, which is a prerequisite for the estimation of knee joint impedance during gait. Significance: Tools such as this can enhance models of neuromuscular control, which may improve rehabilitative outcomes following impairments affecting gait and advance the design and control of assistive devices.

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IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering

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64

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10

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Artificial intelligence

Biomedical engineering

Science & Technology

Engineering

Gait biomechanics

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Tucker, MR; Shirota, C; Lambercy, O; Sulzer, JS; Gassert, R, Design and Characterization of an Exoskeleton for Perturbing the Knee During Gait, IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering, 2017, 64 (10), pp. 2331-2343

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