Effects of Passive Ankle Exoskeleton on Human Energy Expenditure: Pilot Evaluation

  • Miha DežmanEmail author
  • Tadej Debevec
  • Jan Babič
  • Andrej Gams
Conference paper
Part of the Advances in Intelligent Systems and Computing book series (AISC, volume 540)


Exoskeletons can be utilized for rehabilitation purposes as well as for assistance and augmentation of motion of patients with disabilities, workers, elderly and even healthy people. Compared to powered solutions, unpowered passive exoskeletons have been shown to have significantly higher chances of end user acceptance, because of simpler design, no complex electronics and potentially lower cost. In this paper we present the results of a flat walking test using an unpowered passive ankle exoskeleton. Important exoskeleton aspects such as ergonomics, comfort, and robust design are outlined and areas for improvement are highlighted. The paper also presents the results of the evaluation of the exoskeleton device in a pilot study, where its physiological effects are assessed for four participants via measurements of oxygen consumption and EMG muscle activity during five 10-min walking sessions under different conditions. Results show that significant metabolic cost reduction can only be achieved with a proper mechanism spring selection.


Passive exoskeleton Passive orthosis Metabolic cost Efficient walking Energy cost reduction 


  1. 1.
    Vukobratovic, M.K.: When were active exoskeletons actually born? Int. J. Humanoid Rob. 4(3), 459–486 (2007)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Ferris, D.P.: The exoskeletons are here. J. Neuroeng. Rehabil. 6(1), 17–19 (2009)MathSciNetCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Viteckova, S., Kutilek, P., Jirina, M.: Wearable lower limb robotics: A review. Biocybernetics Biomed. Eng. 33(2), 96–105 (2013)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Gray, A.: Population ageing and health care expenditure. Ageing Horiz. 2, 15–20 (2005)Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Morris, J.N., Hardman, A.E.: Walking to health. Sports Med. 23(5), 306–332 (1997)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Ferris, D.P., Sawicki, G.S., Domingo, A.: Powered lower limb orthoses for gait rehabilitation. Top. Spinal Cord Inj. Rehabil. 11(2), 34 (2005)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Gams, A., Petric, T., Debevec, T., Babic, J.: Effects of robotic knee exoskeleton on human energy expenditure. IEEE Trans. Biomed. Eng. 60(6), 1636–1644 (2013)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Galle, S., Malcolm, P., Derave, W., De Clercq, D.: Adaptation to walking with an exoskeleton that assists ankle extension. Gait Posture 38(3), 495–499 (2013)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Jimenez-Fabian, R., Verlinden, O.: Review of control algorithms for robotic ankle systems in lower-limb orthoses, prostheses, and exoskeletons. Med. Eng. Phys. 34(4), 397–408 (2012)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Ferris, D.P., Lewis, C.L.: Robotic lower limb exoskeletons using proportional myoelectric control. In: Annual International Conference of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society, pp. 2119–2124. IEEE (2009)Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Zhang, J., Cheah, C.C., Collins, S.H.: Experimental comparison of torque control methods on an ankle exoskeleton during human walking. In: IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), pp. 5584–5589. IEEE (2015)Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Cain, S.M., Gordon, K.E., Ferris, D.P.: Locomotor adaptation to a powered ankle-foot orthosis depends on control method. J. Neuroengineering Rehabil. 4(1), 1 (2007)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Sawicki, G.S., Lewis, C.L., Ferris, D.: It pays to have a spring in your step. Exerc. Sport Sci. Rev. 37(3), 130 (2009)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Collins, S.H., Wiggin, M.B., Sawicki, G.S.: Reducing the energy cost of human walking using an unpowered exoskeleton. Nature 522(7555), 212–215 (2015)CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Miha Dežman
    • 1
    Email author
  • Tadej Debevec
    • 1
  • Jan Babič
    • 1
  • Andrej Gams
    • 1
  1. 1.Humanoid and Cognitive Robotics Lab, Department of Automatics, Biocybernetics and RoboticsJožef Stefan InstituteLjubljanaSlovenia

Personalised recommendations