Navigating complex terrains requires dynamic interactions between the substrate, musculoskeletal, and sensorimotor systems. Current perturbation studies have mostly used visible terrain height perturbations, which do not allow us to distinguish among the neuromechanical contributions of feedforward control, feedback-mediated, and mechanical perturbation responses. Here, we use treadmill-belt speed perturbations to induce a targeted perturbation to foot speed only, and without terrain-induced changes in joint posture and leg loading at stance onset. Based on previous studies suggesting a proximo-distal gradient in neuromechanical control, we hypothesized that distal joints would exhibit larger changes in joint kinematics, compared to proximal joints. Additionally, we expected birds to use feedforward strategies to increase the intrinsic stability of gait. To test these hypotheses, seven adult guinea fowl were video recorded while walking on a motorized treadmill, during both steady and perturbed trials. Perturbations consisted of repeated exposures to a deceleration and acceleration of the treadmill-belt speed. Surprisingly, we found that joint angular trajectories and center of mass fluctuations remain very similar, despite substantial perturbation of foot velocity by the treadmill belt. Hip joint angular trajectories exhibit the largest changes, with the birds adopting a slightly more flexed position across all perturbed strides. Additionally, we observed increasedmore »
This content will become publicly available on July 11, 2023
This study examined the interaction of gait-synchronized vibrotactile cues with an active ankle exoskeleton that provides plantarflexion assistance.
An exoskeleton that augments gait may support collaboration through feedback to the user about the state of the exoskeleton or characteristics of the task.
Participants ( N = 16) were provided combinations of torque assistance and vibrotactile cues at pre-specified time points in late swing and early stance while walking on a self-paced treadmill. Participants were either given explicit instructions ( N = 8) or were allowed to freely interpret (N=8) how to coordinate with cues.
For the free interpretation group, the data support an 8% increase in stride length and 14% increase in speed with exoskeleton torque across cue timing, as well as a 5% increase in stride length and 7% increase in speed with only vibrotactile cues. When given explicit instructions, participants modulated speed according to cue timing—increasing speed by 17% at cues in late swing and decreasing speed 11% at cues in early stance compared to no cue when exoskeleton torque was off. When torque was on, participants with explicit instructions had reduced changes in speed.
These findings support that the presence of torque mitigates how cues were used more »
Interactions between haptic feedback and exoskeleton use during gait can inform future feedback designs to support coordination between users and exoskeletons.
- Publication Date:
- NSF-PAR ID:
- Journal Name:
- Human Factors: The Journal of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society
- Page Range or eLocation-ID:
- Article No. 001872082211136
- SAGE Publications
- Sponsoring Org:
- National Science Foundation
More Like this
Kinematic Trajectories in Response to Speed Perturbations in Walking Suggest Modular Task-Level Control of Leg Angle and Length
Toward goal-oriented robotic gait training: The effect of gait speed and stride length on lower extremity joint torquesRobot-assisted gait training is becoming increasingly common to support recovery of walking function after neurological injury. How to formulate controllers capable of promoting desired features in gait, i.e. goals, is complicated by the limited understanding of the human response to robotic input. A possible method to formulate controllers for goal-oriented gait training is based on the analysis of the joint torques applied by healthy subjects to modulate such goals. The objective of this work is to understand how sagittal plane joint torque is affected by two important gait parameters: gait speed (GS) and stride length (SL). We here present the results obtained from healthy subjects walking on a treadmill at different speeds, and asked to modulate stride length via visual feedback. Via principal component analysis, we extracted the global effects of the two factors on the peak-to-peak amplitude of joint torques. Next, we used a torque pulse approximation analysis to determine optimal timing and amplitude of torque pulses that approximate the SL-specific difference in joint torque profiles measured at different values of GS. Our results show a strong effect of GS on the torque profiles in all joints considered. In contrast, SL mostly affects the torque produced at the kneemore »
Single-stride exposure to pulse torque assistance provided by a robotic exoskeleton at the hip and knee jointsRobot assisted gait retraining is an increasingly common method for supporting restoration of walking function after neurological injury. Gait speed, an indicator of walking function, is correlated with propulsive force, a measure modulated by the posture of the trailing limb at push-off. With the ultimate goal of improving efficacy of robot assisted gait retraining, we sought to directly target gait propulsion, by exposing subjects to pulses of joint torque applied at the hip and knee joints to modulate push-off posture. In this work, we utilized a robotic exoskeleton to apply pulses of torque to the hip and knee joints, during individual strides, of 16 healthy control subjects, and quantified the effects of this intervention on hip extension and propulsive impulse during and after application of these pulses. We observed significant effects in the outcome measures primarily at the stride of pulse application and generally no after effects in the following strides. Specifically, when pulses were applied at late stance, we observed a significant increase in propulsive impulse when knee and/or hip flexion pulses were applied and a significant increase in hip extension angle when hip extension torque pulses were applied. When pulses were applied at early stance, we observed amore »
Ankle resistance with a unilateral soft exosuit increases plantarflexor effort during pushoff in unimpaired individuals
Ankle-targeting resistance training for improving plantarflexion function during walking increases rehabilitation intensity, an important factor for motor recovery after stroke. However, understanding of the effects of resisting plantarflexion during stance on joint kinetics and muscle activity—key outcomes in evaluating its potential value in rehabilitation—remains limited. This initial study uses a unilateral exosuit that resists plantarflexion during mid-late stance in unimpaired individuals to test the hypotheses that when plantarflexion is resisted, individuals would (1) increase plantarflexor ankle torque and muscle activity locally at the resisted ipsilateral ankle, but (2) at higher forces, exhibit a generalized response that also uses the unresisted joints and limb. Further, we expected (3) short-term retention into gait immediately after removal of resistance.
Ten healthy young adults walked at 1.25 m s−1for four 10-min discrete bouts, each comprising baseline, exposure to active exosuit-applied resistance, and post-active sections. In each bout, a different force magnitude was applied based on individual baseline ankle torques. The peak resistance torque applied by the exosuit was 0.13 ± 0.01, 0.19 ± 0.01, 0.26 ± 0.02, and 0.32 ± 0.02 N m kg−1, in the LOW, MED, HIGH, and MAX bouts, respectively.
(1) Across all bouts, participants increased peak ipsilateral biological ankle torque by 0.13–0.25 N m kg−1(p < 0.001) during exosuit-applied resistance compared to corresponding baselines. Additionally, ipsilateral soleusmore »
Targeted resistance of ankle plantarflexion during stance by an exosuit consistently increased local ipsilateral plantarflexor effort during active resistance, but force magnitude will be an important parameter to tune for minimizing the involvement of the unresisted joints and limb during training.
Functional Resistance Training Differentially Alters Gait Kinetics After Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction: A Pilot Study
Quadriceps weakness is common after anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction and can alter gait mechanics. Functional resistance training (FRT) is a novel approach to retraining strength after injury, but it is unclear how it alters gait mechanics. Therefore, we tested how 3 different types of FRT devices: a knee brace resisting extension (unidirectional brace), a knee brace resisting extension and flexion (bidirectional brace), and an elastic band pulling backwards on the ankle (elastic band)–acutely alter gait kinetics in this population.
The type of FRT device will affect ground-reaction forces (GRFs) during and after the training. Specifically, the uni- and bidirectional braces will increase GRFs when compared with the elastic band.
Level of Evidence:
A total of 15 individuals with ACL reconstruction received FRT with each device over 3 separate randomized sessions. During training, participants walked on a treadmill while performing a tracking task with visual feedback. Sessions contained 5 training trials (180 seconds each) with rest between. Vertical and anterior-posterior GRFs were assessed on the ACL-reconstructed leg before, during, and after training. Changes in GRFs were compared across devices using 1-dimensional statistical parametric mapping.
Resistance applied via bidirectional brace acutely increased gait kinetics during terminal stance/pre-swing (ie,more »
FRT after ACL reconstruction can acutely alter gait kinetics during training. Devices can be applied to selectively alter gait kinetics. However, the long-term effects of FRT after ACL reconstruction with these devices are still unknown.
FRT may be applied to alter gait kinetics of the involved limb after ACL reconstruction, depending on the device used.