Structure design of lower limb exoskeletons for gait training
Due to the close physical interaction between human and machine in process of gait training, lower limb exoskeletons should be safe, comfortable and able to smoothly transfer desired driving force/moments to the patients. Correlatively, in kinematics the exoskeletons are required to be compatible with human lower limbs and thereby to avoid the uncontrollable interactional loads at the human-machine interfaces. Such requirement makes the structure design of exoskeletons very difficult because the human-machine closed chains are complicated. In addition, both the axis misalignments and the kinematic character difference between the exoskeleton and human joints should be taken into account. By analyzing the DOF(degree of freedom) of the whole human-machine closed chain, the human-machine kinematic incompatibility of lower limb exoskeletons is studied. An effective method for the structure design of lower limb exoskeletons, which are kinematically compatible with human lower limb, is proposed. Applying this method, the structure synthesis of the lower limb exoskeletons containing only one-DOF revolute and prismatic joints is investigated; the feasible basic structures of exoskeletons are developed and classified into three different categories. With the consideration of quasi-anthropopathic feature, structural simplicity and wearable comfort of lower limb exoskeletons, a joint replacement and structure comparison based approach to select the ideal structures of lower limb exoskeletons is proposed, by which three optimal exoskeleton structures are obtained. This paper indicates that the human-machine closed chain formed by the exoskeleton and human lower limb should be an even-constrained kinematic system in order to avoid the uncontrollable human-machine interactional loads. The presented method for the structure design of lower limb exoskeletons is universal and simple, and hence can be applied to other kinds of wearable exoskeletons.
Keywordsgait training lower limb exoskeleton structure design kinematic compatibility even-constrained kinematic chain
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