Article: Simulation of a Functional Neuromuscular Stimulation Powered Mechanical Gait Orthosis with Coordinated Joint Locking

One of the first steps I had to take was understanding human gait. The article (bibliographic information) describes very elaborate modelling techniques in order to make a mechanical gait orthosis walk. I would like to emphasize that th Lokomat is not intended to make patients walk around, so it’s a difference to the device mentioned in the article. But the general mechanisms are comparable, especially using torques to make the patient take a step.

Abstract – The purpose of this study was to examine a hybrid orthosis system (HOS) for walking after spinal-cord injury (SCI) that coordinates the mechanical locking and unlocking of knee and ankle joints of a reciprocating gait orthosis (RGO), while propulsive forces are injected and unlocked joints controlled with functional neuromuscular stimulation (FNS). The likely effectiveness of the HOS in terms of forward progression, stability, and posture of paraplegic gait was determined in this simulation study. A three-dimensional computer model of a HOS combining FNS with an RGO incorporating feedback control of muscle activation and joint locking was developed. An anthropomorphic human model included passive joint moments and a foot-ground contact model adapted from other studies. A model of the RGO reciprocally coupled the hips and locked and unlocked the knee and ankle joints during stance and swing respectively. The actions of muscles under FNS activation were modeled via closed-loop control of joint torque inputs. A walking aid that mimicked canes and voluntary upper extremity actions maintained lateral stability by providing the necessary shoulder forces and moments. The simulated HOS achieved gait speeds of 0.51/spl plusmn/0.03 m/s, stride lengths of 0.85/spl plusmn/0.04 m, and cadences of 72/spl plusmn/4 steps/min, exceeding the reported performance of other assistive gait systems. Although minimal forward trunk tilt was found to be necessary during specific phases of gait, posture, and stability were significantly improved over FNS-only systems.