In the past decade, advanced technologies in robotics have been explored to enhance the rehabilitation of post-stroke patients. Previous works have shown that gait assistance for post-stroke patients can be provided through the use of robotics technology in ancillary equipment, such as Ankle Foot Orthosis (AFO). An AFO is usually used to assist patients with spasticity or foot drop problems. There are several types of AFOs, depending on the flexibility of the joint, such as rigid, flexible rigid, and articulated AFOs. A rigid AFO has a fixed joint, and a flexible rigid AFO has a more flexible joint, while the articulated AFO has a freely rotating ankle joint, where the mechanical properties of the AFO are more controllable compared to the other two types of AFOs. This paper reviews the control of the mechanical properties of existing AFOs for gait assistance in post-stroke patients. Several aspects that affect the control of the mechanical properties of an AFO, such as the controller input, number of gait phases, controller output reference, and controller performance evaluation are discussed and compared. Thus, this paper will be of interest to AFO researchers or developers who would like to design their own AFOs with the most suitable mechanical properties based on their application. The controller input and the number of gait phases are discussed first. Then, the discussion moves forward to the methods of estimating the controller output reference, which is the main focus of this study. Based on the estimation method, the gait control strategies can be classified into subject-oriented estimations and phase-oriented estimations. Finally, suggestions for future studies are addressed, one of which is the application of the adaptive controller output reference to maximize the benefits of the AFO to users.
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