Evolving Toward Subject-Specific Gait Rehabilitation Through Single-Joint Resistive Force Interventions
Frontiers in Neurorobotics
Walking is one of the most relevant tasks that a person performs in their daily routine. Despite its mechanical complexities, any change in the external conditions that applies some external perturbation, or in the human musculoskeletal system that limits an individual's movement, entails a motor response that can either be compensatory or adaptive in nature. Incidentally, with aging or due to the occurrence of a neuro-musculoskeletal disorder, a combination of such changes including reduced
... sory perception, muscle weakness, spasticity, etc. has been reported, and this can significantly degrade the human walking performance. Various studies in gait rehabilitation literature have identified a need for the development of better rehabilitation paradigms and have implied that an efficient human robot interaction is critical. Understanding how humans respond to a particular gait alteration can be beneficial in designing an effective rehabilitation paradigm. In this context, the current work investigates human locomotor adaptation to resistive alteration to the hip and ankle strategies of walking. A cable-driven robotic system, which does not add mobility constraints, was used to implement resistive force interventions within the hip and ankle joints separately through two experiments with eight healthy adult participants in each. In both cases, the intervention was applied during the push-off phase of walking, i.e., from pre-swing to terminal swing. The results showed that subjects in both groups adopted a compensatory response to the applied intervention and demonstrated intralimb and interlimb adaptation. Overall, the participants demonstrated a deviant gait implying lower limb musculoskeletal adjustments as if to compensate for a hip or ankle abnormality.