A Battery-Powered Ankle Exoskeleton Improves Gait Mechanics in a Feasibility Study of Individuals with Cerebral Palsy

Zachary F. Lerner, Taryn A. Harvey, Jennifer L. Lawson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations

Abstract

Neuromuscular impairment associated with cerebral palsy (CP) often leads to life-long walking deficits. Our goal was to evaluate the ability of a novel untethered wearable ankle exoskeleton to reduce the severity of gait pathology from CP. In this clinical feasibility study of five individuals with CP, we used instrumented gait analysis to quantify how powered plantar-flexor assistance affected gait mechanics following multi-visit acclimation. Compared to how each participant walked normally, walking with untethered exoskeleton assistance resulted in improved ankle plantar-flexion and knee extension; residual flexion deformity across the lower-extremity improved by a clinically significant 14.4° (p = 0.022). Powered plantar-flexor assistance increased average total positive ankle power by 44% (p = 0.037), and resulted in a 30% reduction in average negative biological ankle power (p = 0.004) and a 29% reduction in average positive hip power (p = 0.009). These findings suggest that powered ankle assistance augmented, rather than simply replaced, biological function to produce a more efficient gait pattern, which was corroborated by a 19% improvement in metabolic cost of transport (p = 0.011). This study provides evidence in support of the continued investigation of ankle assistance in mobility and rehabilitation interventions for this patient population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1345-1356
Number of pages12
JournalAnnals of Biomedical Engineering
Volume47
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 15 2019

Keywords

  • Cerebral palsy
  • Rehabilitation
  • Walking
  • Wearable robotics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering

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