Volume 48 Number 4, 2011
Pages 459 — 472
Abstract — Innovative technological advancements in the field of orthotics, such as portable powered orthotic systems, could create new treatment modalities to improve the functional outcome of rehabilitation. In this article, we present a novel portable powered ankle-foot orthosis (PPAFO) to provide untethered assistance during gait. The PPAFO provides both plantar flexor and dorsiflexor torque assistance by way of a bidirectional pneumatic rotary actuator. The system uses a portable pneumatic power source (compressed carbon dioxide bottle) and embedded electronics to control the actuation of the foot. We collected pilot experimental data from one impaired and three nondisabled subjects to demonstrate design functionality. The impaired subject had bilateral impairment of the lower legs due to cauda equina syndrome. We found that data from nondisabled walkers demonstrated the PPAFO's capability to provide correctly timed plantar flexor and dorsiflexor assistance during gait. Reduced activation of the tibialis anterior during stance and swing was also seen during assisted nondisabled walking trials. An increase in the vertical ground reaction force during the second half of stance was present during assisted trials for the impaired subject. Data from nondisabled walkers demonstrated functionality, and data from an impaired walker demonstrated the ability to provide functional plantar flexor assistance.
Key words: AFO, assistive devices, dorsiflexor weakness, foot drop, foot slap, gait, plantar flexor weakness, pneumatic, portable assistance, rehabilitation, treadmill.
Last Reviewed or Updated Wednesday, May 11, 2011 2:53 PM