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Robotic Assistive Steppers for Locomotor Training: Trotting Back to the Starting Gate

Monday January 25, 2016 14:00 – 14:50 Igo Krebs, MIT, USA

Robotic therapy is a flagship example of the benefits of human-robot collaboration. However, the 2010 American Heart Association guidelines for stroke care endorsed robotic therapy for the upper extremity (UE), but not for the lower extremity (LE). In 2010, the US Veterans Administration similarly endorsed robotic therapy for UE, but not for LE: “recommendation is made against routinely providing the [LE] intervention… At least fair evidence was found that the intervention is ineffective …”. This apparent immaturity of LE robotic therapy reflects the fact that, to date, knowledge of human motor control has not been applied to LE robotic therapy. The present talk aims to address that problem.
Knowledge of human sensorimotor control has matured to the point where a fundamental theory of walking is within reach. To enable the application of robotics to assist walking, we propose a competent model of human walking. By “competent model” we mean that it may only be a first approximation of a fundamental theory, but it is good enough to improve the design of robots and regimens for LE therapy. We will conclude with an application example demonstrating the concept.