Recent research has found that 3.86 million Americans require wheelchairs and the number has been increasing annually by an average annual rate of 5.9% per year. While wheelchairs provide freedom, allowing users to be independent as well as reducing dependence upon others, wheelchair use is not physically or emotionally equivalent to walking and is often thought to limit community participation and thus exacerbate social isolation. Robotic exoskeletons/bionic suits have the potential to enable these individuals to stand up and walk, thus providing a way to more fully reintegrate these individuals into society. One hurdle limiting the widespread adoption of exoskeletons in the home and community is the inability of the user to control walking parameters.
This study aims to validate a proposed solution that will provide users a practical way to adjust their exoskeleton/bionic suit's gait to precisely achieve their navigational goals.
Inclusion Criteria for Subjects with any Neurological Condition:
- Have a spinal cord injury SCI between C7-S1, or another neurological weakness
- Be between 14-65 years of age
- Be able to physically fit into the exoskeletal device
- Be able to tolerate upright standing for a minimum of 30 minutes
- Have joint range of motion within normal functional limits for ambulation
- Have sufficient upper body strength to balance themselves using the walker while wearing the exoskeleton
Exclusion Criteria for All Subjects:
- Have height below 62 inches or above 74 inches
- Weigh above 220 lbs.
- Be pregnant or planning to be pregnant
- Present joint contractures of any extremity that limits normal ROM during ambulation with assistive devices
- Have any medical issue that precludes full weight bearing and ambulation (e.g. orthopedic injuries, pain, severe spasticity)
- Have skin issues that would prevent wearing the device
- Have cognitive and/or communicative disability (e.g. due to brain injury). Patients must be able to follow directions well and demonstrate learning capability
- Have a history of severe osteoporosis or high risk of fractures. Medical clearance will be obtained for patients who are at risk of osteoporosis or fractures.
Innovative Design Laboratories
The Development of a 3D Imaging and Classification System for Exoskeleton Systems, SBIR Grant