2023 journal article

The effect of hip exoskeleton weight on kinematics, kinetics, and electromyography during human walking


By: M. Normand*, J. Lee*, H. Su n & J. Sulzer*

co-author countries: United States of America 🇺🇸
author keywords: Gait; Exoskeleton; Weight; Loading
MeSH headings : Humans; Electromyography; Exoskeleton Device; Biomechanical Phenomena; Walking / physiology; Gait / physiology
Source: Web Of Science
Added: May 9, 2023

In exoskeleton research, transparency is the degree to which a device hinders the movement of the user, a critical component of performance and usability. Transparency is most often evaluated individually, thus lacking generalization. Our goal was to systematically evaluate transparency due to inertial effects on gait of a hypothetical hip exoskeleton. We predicted that the weight distribution around the pelvis and the amount of weight applied would change gait characteristics. We instructed 21 healthy individuals to walk on a treadmill while bearing weights on the pelvis between 4 and 8 kg in three different configurations, bilaterally, unilaterally (left side) and on the lumbar portion of the back (L4). We measured kinematics, kinetics, and muscle activity during randomly ordered trials of 1.5 min at typical walking speed. We also calculated the margin of stability to measure medial–lateral stability. We observed that loading the hips bilaterally with 4 kg had no changes in kinematics, kinetics, dynamic stability, or muscle activity, but above 6 kg, sagittal joint power was increased. Loading the lumbar area increased posterior pelvic tilt at 6 kg and decreased dynamic stability at 4 kg, with many individuals reporting some discomfort. For the unilateral placement, above 4 kg dynamic stability was decreased and hip joint power was increased, and above 6 kg the pelvis begins to dip towards the loaded side. These results show the different effects of weight distribution around the pelvis. This study represents a novel, systematic approach to characterizing transparency in exoskeleton design (clinicaltrials.gov: NCT05120115).