Most exoskeleton research has focused on helping paralyzed people to walk upright and for soldiers and workers to easily carry heavy loads. At the National Institutes of Health’s Clinical Center Rehabilitation Medicine Department researchers built an exoskeleton to improve the walking gait of children with cerebral palsy.
Many children with cerebral palsy exhibit what’s known as a “crouch gait,” bending their legs excessively and not straightening them during each forward step. This awkward walking style is inefficient and tiring, but so far solutions for improving this conditions have been limited, to say the least.
The new exoskeleton consists of two motorized braces that attach to the legs and don’t extend up to the rest of the body. The devices helped push the legs during certain points of each step, constantly monitoring at which point in the step the child was in and reacting accordingly.
In a study of seven kids with cerebral palsy, the exoskeleton improved the knee extension of six of the kids after only six training sessions.
Here you can check out the difference the device made for one of the children in the study:
Study in journal Science Translational Medicine: A lower-extremity exoskeleton improves knee extension in children with crouch gait from cerebral palsy…