Effects of a neuromuscular controller on a powered ankle exoskeleton during human walking

Wearable devices to assist abnormal gaits require controllers that interact with the user in an intuitive and unobtrusive manner. To design such a controller, we investigated a bio-inspired walking controller for orthoses and prostheses. We present (i) a Simulink neuromuscular control library derived from a computational model of reflexive neuromuscular control of human gait with a central pattern generator (CPG) extension, (ii) an ankle reflex controller for the Achilles exoskeleton derived from the library, and (iii) the mechanics and energetics of healthy subjects walking with an actuated ankle orthosis using the proposed controller. As this controller was designed to mimic human reflex patterns during locomotion, we hypothesize that walking with this controller would lead to lower energetic costs, compared to walking with the added mass of the device only, and allow for walking at different speeds without explicit control. Preliminary results suggest that the neuromuscular controller does not disturb walking dynamics in both slow and normal walking cases and can also reduce the net metabolic cost compared to transparent mode of the device. Reductions in tibialis anterior and soleus activity were observed, suggesting the controller could be suitable, in future work, for augmenting or replacing normal walking functions. We also investigated the impedance patterns generated by the neuromuscular controller. The validity of the equivalent variable impedance controller, particularly in stance phase, can facilitate serving subject-specific features by linking impedance measurement and neuromuscular controller.

Published in:
IEEE International Conference on Biomedical Robotics and Biomechatronics, 617-622
Presented at:
IEEE International Conference on Biomedical Robotics and Biomechatronics (BioRob), Singapore, June 26-29, 2016
New York, Ieee

 Record created 2016-12-03, last modified 2019-08-12

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