Distinct Kinematic and Neuromuscular Activation Strategies During Quiet Stance and in Response to Postural Perturbations in Healthy Individuals Fitted With and Without a Lower-Limb Exoskeleton

Charles S. Layne, Christopher A. Malaya, Akshay S. Ravindran, Isaac John, Gerard E. Francisco, Jose Luis Contreras-Vidal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Many individuals with disabling conditions have difficulty with gait and balance control that may result in a fall. Exoskeletons are becoming an increasingly popular technology to aid in walking. Despite being a significant aid in increasing mobility, little attention has been paid to exoskeleton features to mitigate falls. To develop improved exoskeleton stability, quantitative information regarding how a user reacts to postural challenges while wearing the exoskeleton is needed. Assessing the unique responses of individuals to postural perturbations while wearing an exoskeleton provides critical information necessary to effectively accommodate a variety of individual response patterns. This report provides kinematic and neuromuscular data obtained from seven healthy, college-aged individuals during posterior support surface translations with and without wearing a lower limb exoskeleton. A 2-min, static baseline standing trial was also obtained. Outcome measures included a variety of 0 dimensional (OD) measures such as center of pressure (COP) RMS, peak amplitude, velocities, pathlength, and electromyographic (EMG) RMS, and peak amplitudes. These measures were obtained during epochs associated with the response to the perturbations: baseline, response, and recovery. T-tests were used to explore potential statistical differences between the exoskeleton and no exoskeleton conditions. Time series waveforms (1D) of the COP and EMG data were also analyzed. Statistical parametric mapping (SPM) was used to evaluate the 1D COP and EMG waveforms obtained during the epochs with and without wearing the exoskeleton. The results indicated that during quiet stance, COP velocity was increased while wearing the exoskeleton, but the magnitude of sway was unchanged. The OD COP measures revealed that wearing the exoskeleton significantly reduced the sway magnitude and velocity in response to the perturbations. There were no systematic effects of wearing the exoskeleton on EMG. SPM analysis revealed that there was a range of individual responses; both behaviorally (COP) and among neuromuscular activation patterns (EMG). Using both the OD and 1D measures provided a more comprehensive representation of how wearing the exoskeleton impacts the responses to posterior perturbations. This study supports a growing body of evidence that exoskeletons must be personalized to meet the specific capabilities and needs of each individual end-user.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number942551
JournalFrontiers in Human Neuroscience
Volume16
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 15 2022

Keywords

  • EMG
  • exoskeleton
  • kinematics
  • perturbations
  • posture

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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