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Technical Brief

Precise Foot Positioning of Walking Robot for Paraplegic Patient Wearing Exoskeleton by Using Electrical Stimulation Feedback

[+] Author and Article Information
Mengze Li

Intelligent Robotics and Biomechatronics Laboratory,
Department of Micro-Nano Mechanical Science
and Engineering,
Nagoya University,
Nagoya 4648603, Japan
e-mail: li@robo.mein.nagoya-u.ac.jp

Zhaofan Yuan

Intelligent Robotics and Biomechatronics Laboratory,
Department of Micro-Nano Mechanical Science
and Engineering,
Nagoya University,
Nagoya 4648603, Japan
e-mail: yuan@robo.mein.nagoya-u.ac.jp

Tadayoshi Aoyama

Intelligent Robotics and Biomechatronics Laboratory,
Department of Micro-Nano Mechanical Science
and Engineering,
Nagoya University,
Nagoya 4648603, Japan
e-mail: tadayoshi.aoyama@mae.nagoya-u.ac.jp

Yasuhisa Hasegawa

Intelligent Robotics and Biomechatronics Laboratory,
Department of Micro-Nano Mechanical Science
and Engineering,
Nagoya University,
Nagoya 4648603, Japan
e-mail: hasegawa@mein.nagoya-u.ac.jp

Contributed by the Mechanisms and Robotics Committee of ASME for publication in the JOURNAL OF MECHANISMS AND ROBOTICS. Manuscript received September 5, 2017; final manuscript received May 10, 2018; published online June 18, 2018. Assoc. Editor: Veronica J. Santos.

J. Mechanisms Robotics 10(4), 044505 (Jun 18, 2018) (8 pages) Paper No: JMR-17-1286; doi: 10.1115/1.4040354 History: Received September 05, 2017; Revised May 10, 2018

The research and development of powered exoskeletons is expected to support the walking of paraplegic patients. At the current stage, exoskeletons do not allow patients to voluntarily control their gait, nor do they provide sensory feedback to compensate for the loss of lower-body sensation. This paper proposes a wearable walking control interface to achieve voluntary gait control, and an electrical stimulation method to inform the patients about their foot position for voluntary gait control. In this study, a walking robot that simulated a paraplegic patient wearing an exoskeleton was used to investigate the performance of the proposed interface and stimulation method. We confirmed that, by using the interface, the subjects were able to control the robot gait for a distance of 3 m. Moreover, the accuracy of the electrical stimulation feedback was confirmed to approximate the visual feedback achieved through the human eyes. The experimental results revealed that the proposed interface and electrical stimulation feedback could be applied to a walking support system for patients with complete paraplegia.

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Figures

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Fig. 1

Concept of powered exoskeleton with wearable walking control interface and electrical stimulation feedback

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Fig. 2

Exterior and assembly drawing of wearable walking control interface

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Fig. 3

Robot schematic and coordinate system

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Fig. 4

Gait control through wearable walking control interface

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Fig. 5

Four phases of robot walking control

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Fig. 6

Snapshot of two steps during robot walking experiment

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Fig. 7

Step length and step height of robot walking experiment

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Fig. 8

Appearance and size of electrical stimulation device

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Fig. 9

Examples of stimulation–relaxation modulation

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Fig. 10

Reaction time of three stimuli types (overall)

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Fig. 11

Reaction time of three stimuli types (each subject)

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Fig. 12

Coordinate system for representing foot position

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Fig. 13

Procedures of target reaching experiment

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Fig. 14

Distance error of target reaching experiment (each subject)

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Fig. 15

Distance error of target reaching experiment (overall)

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