Robotic devices for rehabilitation and gait assistance have greatly advanced with the objective of improving both the mobility and quality of life of people with motion impairments. To encourage active participation of the user, the use of admittance control strategy is one of the most appropriate approaches, which requires methods for online adjustment of impedance components. Such approach is cited by the literature as a challenge to guaranteeing a suitable dynamic performance. This work proposes a method for online knee impedance modulation, which generates variable gains through the gait cycle according to the users’ anthropometric data and gait sub-phases recognized with footswitch signals. This approach was evaluated in an active knee orthosis with three variable gain patterns to obtain a suitable condition to implement a stance controller: two different gain patterns to support the knee in stance phase, and a third pattern for gait without knee support. The knee angle and torque were measured during the experimental protocol to compare both temporospatial parameters and kinematics data with other studies of gait with knee exoskeletons. The users rated scores related to their satisfaction with both the device and controller through QUEST questionnaires. Experimental results showed that the admittance controller proposed here offered knee support in 50% of the gait cycle, and the walking speed was not significantly different between the three gain patterns (p
= 0.067). A positive effect of the controller on users regarding safety during gait was found with a score of 4 in a scale of 5. Therefore, the approach demonstrates good performance to adjust impedance components providing knee support in stance phase.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited