Assistive Exoskeleton for Injury Prevention during Downhill Walking

Contributors

Assistive Exoskeleton

This project presents a device designed to reduce muscular effort during downhill walking. The designed solution is a soft wearable exoskeleton consisting of an air spring, a wearable soft fabric interface that attaches the air spring to the user's body, and an integrated smart sensing and pneumatic control system. After prototyping of the device, initial evaluation was performed, showing that the device successfully produced a resistive torque of 5 Nm, decreasing torque on the knee by 10% for a 58 kg individual on a 20 degree slope. Following initial evaluation, human subject testing was conducted in order to determine the effect of the device on muscle activity and gait. Initial results show that on a -5 degree slope, the device can reduce muscle activity by up to 17%. Additionally, joint angle data showed that there were no substantial negative effects on the users natural gait pattern. This device is a low-cost solution that will help the active, elderly, and physically impaired alike by decreasing muscle fatigue, decreasing risk of overuse injuries, increasing independence, and improving overall quality of life.