Movement Augmentation to Evaluate Human Control of Locomotor Stability

Geoffrey Brown1, Mengnan/Mary Wu1, Felix Huang2, Keith Gordon3

  • 1Northwestern University
  • 2Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago
  • 3Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University



Contributed Papers (Oral)


6. Neural and Rehabilitation Engineering


08:00 - 09:30 | Wed 12 Jul | Schwan Room | WeAT8

Neuromuscular Systems I


Controlling center of mass (COM) position and velocity within a dynamic base of support is essential for gait stability. This skill is often compromised following neurologic injury creating a need to develop effective interventions to enhance gait stability. A movement augmentation paradigm applied to walking could potentially be used to improve control of COM dynamics. We have developed a cable robot system, the Agility Trainer, to apply continuous frontal-plane forces to the pelvis during treadmill walking. This cable robot system uses a set of series elastic actuators powered by linear motors to create bilateral forces. Here we use the Agility Trainer to create a negative viscosity force field proportional to the subject's lateral velocity. Two healthy young subjects performed two 10-minute walking trials, Baseline and Negative Viscosity. During the first minute of walking in the Negative Viscosity field participants' lateral COM motion became irregular when compared to the rhythmic sinusoidal motion observed during Baseline walking. By the 10th minute of walking in the Negative Viscosity field the participants had adapted their gait patterns, decreasing their variation in peak lateral COM speed each stride. These results demonstrate that it is feasible to use the Agility Trainer to safely apply a movement augmentation paradigm to human walking.

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