Hello r/robotics, I am a Senior studying Mechanical Engineering at a leading research university. Along with a team of 5 other mechanical engineering students, I have been developing a lower body, unilateral, robotic exoskeleton for stroke patient gait rehabilitation. Our device would be used in physical therapy sessions with chronic stage stroke survivors who have the necessary strength to walk, but who have lingering gait impairments such as drop foot, hip hiking, etc.
The device is an attempt at eliciting active motor learning in stroke rehabilitation. Active motor learning takes place when patients correct their own deviations from a target pattern as opposed to passive learning, where patients are forcefully guided through the correct pattern. Active motor learning has been shown to be more successful in engaging the neural pathways that are weakened following a stroke. Thus, it could be a more effective rehabilitation approach. Our device applies resistive haptic feedback when patients stray from an “optimum” gait. The goal is for them to learn to correct their gait based on the resistive torques applied on them at each point in the walking cycle. They would literally try to follow the “path of least resistance.” This resistive approach has been shown to be more successful in reconnecting the neural pathways that have been severed in stroke patients and could be more effective in rehabilitation.
We are looking to speak with some stroke survivors who have undergone gait rehabilitation for their experiences and insights. We would love to hear about the rehabilitation process, including what strategies or portions of rehabilitation worked well and what areas could use improvements. We also have questions surrounding ergonomics, including devices that you have previously used, what comfortability issues they faced, and how the adjustability mechanisms worked. Finally, what tactile sensations did you experience (itchiness, stickiness, sweatiness, etc.)?
The device can be seen here: https://imgur.com/UAltfRp