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Exoskeleton Boots Could Help People with Mobility Impairments

April 23, 2015
Exoskeleton

NINR-funded researcher Dr. Gregory Sawicki reported a new invention this month that could make walking easier for patients with mobility impairments caused by stroke or other similar neurological injuries.

Sawicki, of North Carolina State University, and his colleagues developed robotic ankle orthoses that reduce the energy costs of human walking without the use of a power source. These exoskeleton “boots” allowed wearers to increase their walking efficiency by seven percent by way of the spring, ratchet, and clutch engaging in movement similar to an extra tendon.

“Preserving or increasing mobility is extremely important for patients recovering from strokes as well as their families and caregivers,” said NINR Director, Dr. Patricia A. Grady. “Promoting innovation and technology to improve health is a key part of NINR’s mission, and we are proud to support Dr. Sawicki and his team in this important work.”

The report on the boot, published in Nature on April 1, was co-authored by Dr. Sawicki and Dr. Steven H. Collins from Carnegie Mellon University. Although the initial invention is still a prototype, both engineers are hopeful about what future models might accomplish for patients of all ages.   

To view the full report, visit: http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nature14288.html

Photo Credit: Stephen Thrift

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