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Article

Development and Evaluation of BenchBalance: A System for Benchmarking Balance Capabilities of Wearable Robots and Their Users

1
Department of Biomechanical Engineering, University of Twente, 7522 NB Enschede, The Netherlands
2
Centro de Automática y Robótica, Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, 28500 Madrid, Spain
3
Università Campus Bio-Medico di Roma, 00128 Rome, Italy
4
Fondazione Santa Lucia, 00179 Rome, Italy
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Michael E. Hahn
Sensors 2022, 22(1), 119; https://doi.org/10.3390/s22010119
Received: 12 November 2021 / Revised: 21 December 2021 / Accepted: 22 December 2021 / Published: 24 December 2021
Recent advances in the control of overground exoskeletons are being centered on improving balance support and decreasing the reliance on crutches. However, appropriate methods to quantify the stability of these exoskeletons (and their users) are still under development. A reliable and reproducible balance assessment is critical to enrich exoskeletons’ performance and their interaction with humans. In this work, we present the BenchBalance system, which is a benchmarking solution to conduct reproducible balance assessments of exoskeletons and their users. Integrating two key elements, i.e., a hand-held perturbator and a smart garment, BenchBalance is a portable and low-cost system that provides a quantitative assessment related to the reaction and capacity of wearable exoskeletons and their users to respond to controlled external perturbations. A software interface is used to guide the experimenter throughout a predefined protocol of measurable perturbations, taking into account antero-posterior and mediolateral responses. In total, the protocol is composed of sixteen perturbation conditions, which vary in magnitude and location while still controlling their orientation. The data acquired by the interface are classified and saved for a subsequent analysis based on synthetic metrics. In this paper, we present a proof of principle of the BenchBalance system with a healthy user in two scenarios: subject not wearing and subject wearing the H2 lower-limb exoskeleton. After a brief training period, the experimenter was able to provide the manual perturbations of the protocol in a consistent and reproducible way. The balance metrics defined within the BenchBalance framework were able to detect differences in performance depending on the perturbation magnitude, location, and the presence or not of the exoskeleton. The BenchBalance system will be integrated at EUROBENCH facilities to benchmark the balance capabilities of wearable exoskeletons and their users. View Full-Text
Keywords: balance; assessment; exoskeletons; benchmarking balance; assessment; exoskeletons; benchmarking
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MDPI and ACS Style

Bayón, C.; Delgado-Oleas, G.; Avellar, L.; Bentivoglio, F.; Di Tommaso, F.; Tagliamonte, N.L.; Rocon, E.; van Asseldonk, E.H.F. Development and Evaluation of BenchBalance: A System for Benchmarking Balance Capabilities of Wearable Robots and Their Users. Sensors 2022, 22, 119. https://doi.org/10.3390/s22010119

AMA Style

Bayón C, Delgado-Oleas G, Avellar L, Bentivoglio F, Di Tommaso F, Tagliamonte NL, Rocon E, van Asseldonk EHF. Development and Evaluation of BenchBalance: A System for Benchmarking Balance Capabilities of Wearable Robots and Their Users. Sensors. 2022; 22(1):119. https://doi.org/10.3390/s22010119

Chicago/Turabian Style

Bayón, Cristina, Gabriel Delgado-Oleas, Leticia Avellar, Francesca Bentivoglio, Francesco Di Tommaso, Nevio L. Tagliamonte, Eduardo Rocon, and Edwin H.F. van Asseldonk. 2022. "Development and Evaluation of BenchBalance: A System for Benchmarking Balance Capabilities of Wearable Robots and Their Users" Sensors 22, no. 1: 119. https://doi.org/10.3390/s22010119

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