Exoskeleton

Project

Use of Robotic Exoskeletons for Stroke Recovery

Summary

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The objective of this study is to evaluate a clinical training strategy that uses a robotic exoskeleton in individuals who have experienced severe stroke. This project is part of Technologies to Evaluate and Advance Manipulation and Mobility (TEAMM).

Significance

Up to 80% of stroke survivors experience considerable gait deficits, including reduced walking speeds and asymmetrical walking patterns, which limit their capacity for community ambulation.

Although various treadmill-based motorized (robotic) devices have been developed to facilitate stepping practice in highly disabled populations, current devices only allow walking at a constant speed, and do not impose the balance and postural demands necessary for walking over ground.

This project will test and evaluate a new generation of exoskeletons (designed by Ekso Bionics) that may provide the benefits of over-ground stepping practice, including limb loading and balance and posture control, while simultaneously reducing the need for therapist assistance.

Clinical Significance

Stroke is the leading cause of adult-onset disability, and there are more than 6.4 million non-institutionalized stroke survivors in the United States.

Currently, stroke survivors are classified based on their self-selected walking speeds as either:

  • unable to walk (non-ambulators)
  • limited household ambulators (walking speed <0.4m/s)
  • limited community ambulators (0.4–0.8m/s)
  • community ambulators (>0.8m/s)

These walking speeds are significantly lower than those of healthy controls (1.3-1.5 m/s).

Recent statistics show that 40% of all stroke survivors experience moderate to severe impairments that require special care while an additional 10% are admitted to skilled nursing or long term care facilities and categorized as non-ambulatory (wheelchair-bound) or limited household ambulators. These individuals are unlikely to walk again. Thus, there is a compelling need to develop mobility-training strategies for survivors of severe stroke.

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This contents of this webpage were developed under a grant from the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR grant number 90RE5014-02-00). NIDILRR is a Center within the Administration for Community Living (ACL), Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The contents of this webpage do not necessarily represent the policy of NIDILRR, ACL, HHS, and you should not assume endorsement by the Federal Government.

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