Effects of ankle exoskeleton assistance and plantar pressure biofeedback on incline walking mechanics and muscle activity in cerebral palsy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Ankle dysfunction affects more than 50 % of people with cerebral palsy, resulting in atypical gait patterns that impede lifelong mobility. Incline walking requires increased lower limb effort and is a promising intervention that targets lower-limb extensor muscles. A concern when prescribing incline walking to people with gait deficits is that this exercise may be too challenging or reinforce unfavorable gait patterns. This study aims to investigate how ankle exoskeleton assistance and plantar pressure biofeedback would affect gait mechanics and muscle activity during incline walking in CP. We recruited twelve children and young adults with CP. Participants walked with ankle assistance alone, biofeedback alone, and the combination while we assessed ankle, knee, and hip mechanics, and plantar flexor and knee extensor activity. Compared to incline walking without assistance or biofeedback, ankle assistance alone reduced the peak biological ankle moment by 12 % (p < 0.001) and peak soleus activity by 8 % (p = 0.013); biofeedback alone increased the biological ankle moment (4 %, p = 0.037) and power (19 %, p = 0.012), and plantar flexor activities by 9 – 27 % (p ≤ 0.026); assistance-plus-biofeedback increased biological ankle and knee power by 34 % and 17 %, respectively (p ≤ 0.05). The results indicate that both ankle exoskeleton assistance and plantar pressure biofeedback can effectively modify lower limb mechanics and muscular effort during incline walking in CP. These techniques may help in establishing personalized gait training interventions by providing the ability to adjust intensity and biomechanical focus over time.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number111944
JournalJournal of Biomechanics
Volume163
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2024

Keywords

  • Biofeedback
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Exoskeleton
  • Rehabilitation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Rehabilitation

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