Portable robot exosuits don’t have to look like they do in science fiction films Aliens or Live The Repeat: Tomorrow’s Edge. In fact, those who really change life for the better look more like the soft exosuit developed by Harvard and Boston University researchers. The soft robot exosuit has recently been put through its paces to show how stroke patients can wear it so they can go faster and further than they otherwise could.
“For people with neurological disorders, portable robotics hold great promise to restore mobility,” Lou Awad, one of the project’s researchers, told Digital Trends. “With soft robot exosuits, our interdisciplinary team has integrated clinical and technical know-how to pursue an approach where less is more. Heavier device components ̵
The team’s portable exosuit can be attached to either one or both legs. Awad noted that it is not a solution that can help patients who need full body support to walk. However, it could effectively improve the skills of people who can already walk but need help – that’s the majority of people after a stroke.
“Our first studies of exosuit technology for soft robots were conducted in a motion detection laboratory and on an instrumented treadmill,” said Awad. “They focused on evaluating the impact on the mechanics of walking after a stroke and the energy costs of walking in a controlled way. in the [our latest] In one study, we took people with stroke hemiparesis out of the lab and tested how far and fast they could go. The ability to go faster and further after physiotherapy is an important result that is desired by both patients and doctors, and the level of improvement that we saw in the small cohort in our study exceeded our expectations. “
In the study, one of the participants wearing the suit could run 100 meters further than would otherwise have been possible with a six-minute walk test.
The researchers’ next plan is to develop the Exosuit so that people can be “retrained” so that they don’t have to wear it indefinitely. An alternative approach could involve developing a smaller, less intrusive version of the existing wearable.
An article describing the work was recently published in the IEEE Open Journal of Engineering in Medicine and Biology.