The goal of this study is the assessment of an assistive control approach applied to an active knee orthosis plus a walker for gait rehabilitation. The study evaluates post-stroke patients and healthy subjects (control group) in terms of kinematics, kinetics, and muscle activity. Muscle and gait information of interest were acquired from their lower limbs and trunk, and a comparison was conducted between patients and control group. Signals from plantar pressure, gait phase, and knee angle and torque were acquired during gait, which allowed us to verify that the stance control strategy proposed here was efficient at improving the patients’ gaits (comparing their results to the control group), without the necessity of imposing a fixed knee trajectory. An innovative evaluation of trunk muscles related to the maintenance of dynamic postural equilibrium during gait assisted by our active knee orthosis plus walker was also conducted through inertial sensors. An increase in gait cycle (stance phase) was also observed when comparing the results of this study to our previous work. Regarding the kinematics, the maximum knee torque was lower for patients when compared to the control group, which implies that our orthosis did not demand from the patients a knee torque greater than that for healthy subjects. Through surface electromyography (sEMG) analysis, a significant reduction in trunk muscle activation and fatigability, before and during the use of our orthosis by patients, was also observed. This suggest that our orthosis, together with the assistive control approach proposed here, is promising and could be considered to complement post-stroke patient gait rehabilitation.
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