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VVol. 37 No. 6, November/December 2000

Treadmill training of paraplegic patients using a robotic orthosis

Gery Colombo, MS; Matthias Joerg, MS; Reinhard Schreier, BME; Volker Dietz, MD

Paraplegic Center ParaCare, University Hospital Balgrist, Zurich, Switzerland; Hocoma GmbH, Medical Engineering, Staefa, Switzerland

Abstract — Recent studies have confirmed that regular treadmill training can improve walking capabilities in incomplete spinal cord-injured subjects. At the beginning of this training the leg movements of the patients have to be assisted by physiotherapists during gait on the moving treadmill. The physical capabilities and the individual experience of the therapists usually limit this training. A driven gait orthosis (DGO) has been developed that can move the legs of a patient in a physiological way on the moving treadmill. The orthosis is adjustable in size so different patients can use it. Actuators at the knee and hip joints are controlled by a position controller. With the DGO the legs of patients with different degrees of paresis and spasticity could be trained for more than half an hour, and physiological gait patterns were obtained.

Key words: bipedal locomotion, driven gait orthosis, gait, orthosis, paraplegia, powered walking exoskeleton, treadmill training

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