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Development of hybrid orthosis for standing, walking, and stair climbing after spinal cord injury

Rudi Kobetic, MS, et al.

Figure. Exoskeletal components of hybrid neuroprosthesis.

Access to different environments and negotiating architectural barriers in the home, workplace, and community remain problems for veterans with paraplegia despite advances in medicine and the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act. This study examines the feasibility of a hybrid system combining new bracing components that automatically lock and unlock to regulate movement with functional electrical stimulation of the user's own paralyzed muscles to power movement of the legs. This article summarizes the design requirements for the orthosis and details the preliminary performance of a prototype hybrid system that enables users to stand up from sitting, maintain upright standing, walk, and climb stairs. Results are presented from bench testing, laboratory evaluation on nondisabled individuals, and initial testing with a volunteer with SCI. Further development of hybrid systems should provide greater accessibility for persons with SCI to places not readily reachable from the wheelchair while helping to reverse the degradation of bones, joints, heart, lungs, and skin due to the immobility from paralysis.

Volume 46 Number 3, 2009
   Pages 447 — 462

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