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Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Robotic Mobility to Paraplegic Users

Researchers at the Florida Institute for Human & Machine Cognition (IHMC) are working toward providing mobility assistance to humans through robotic exoskeletons. People with a lower extremity paralysis are generally limited to wheeled devices for mobility assistance. IHMC researchers have designed powered and unpowered robotic exoskeletons to enable someone with no or limited unaided mobility to be able to walk with the assistance of the robotic device. The IHMC exoskeleton features four motors that are aligned with the user's hip and knee joints to restore ambulation. It is worn like a backpack with additional straps at the waist, thigh, and just below the knee. An onboard computer controls the motors to move in a walking fashion while the user provides balance with a pair of forearm crutches. With just a few hours of training, the two paraplegic evaluators were able to walk with minimal physical and cognitive effort.

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