We are interested in understanding the underlying neuralplasticity mechanisms associated with improved walking function after robotic-assisted locomotor training in individuals with neurological injury. To achieve this goal, we sought to develop novel techniques and training paradigms to improve locomotor function in adults with spinal cord injury, post stroke, and children with cerebral palsy.
We developed a novel cable-driven robotic gait training system (3DCaLT). This new robotic trainer uses a lightweight cable-driven with controlled forces applied to the pelvis and legs. A key component of this new system is that it is highly back-drivable, which allows patients to readily overcome the forces and torques generated by the robot. This unique feature offers key advantages over current robotic gait training systems, in that it allows for variation in lower limb kinematics and increases active participation of the patient during training. As demonstrated in previous studies, these components of gait training are crucial to maximize motor learning and functional improvements in both individuals with stroke and humans with SCI. This new robotic system is capable of providing a controlled assistance/resistance load in both the sagittal and frontal planes during robotic treadmill training.