Franz, Jason R. and Glauser, Matthias and Riley, Patrick O. and Della Croce, Ugo and Newton, Frederic and Allaire, Paul E. and Kerrigan, D. Casey (2007) Physiological modulation of gait variables by an active partial body weight support system. Journal of Biomechanics, Vol. 40 (14), p. 3244-3250. eISSN 1873-2380. Article.
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Partial body weight support (PBWS) systems used for rehabilitation status post-neurological and musculoskeletal pathologies and injuries are traditionally passive. Our purpose was to demonstrate the ability of an actively controlled PBWS system to provide a clinically relevant modulated support condition while investigating the impact of such a condition on the dynamics of gait. Using an instrumented treadmill and a motion capture system, we compared gait parameters of six healthy young adults (age 24–31 years) during unsupported walking to those under the assistance of two support conditions (a constant 20% body weight support, and a modulated support providing 20% body weight support during the loading response of each leg while allowing for an unsupported terminal stance). The modulated condition achieved support synchronized to gait cycle events with mean and maximum loading errors at the 20% body weight support level equal to 1.01 and 2.44 kg, respectively. Constant support significantly reduced sagittal plane hip angle range of motion and increased ankle platarflexion as compared to unsupported walking (p<0.05). Also, a clear trend of decreased stride length was observed for constant support. No significant differences in these parameters were evident between the modulated support condition and unsupported walking. Ankle power generation and absorption both significantly decreased under constant support. The modulated support condition significantly increased ankle power absorption though showed no change in ankle power generation. The ability of the presented active PBWS device to provide individualized support schemes may offer new and possibly improved applications of PBWS rehabilitation.
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