SAN ANTONIO — Researchers at the University of California, Berkley have created an advanced exoskeleton for home and rehabilitative use and presented it at the American Orthotic and Prosthetic Association National Assembly, here.
The “Phoenix” is designed for patients with stroke, spinal cord and traumatic brain injuries, as well as patients with other neurological disorders that could cause paralysis or muscle impairment.
“Its compact physique has a minimal hardware knee module with impedance control and a hip module with minimally sized actuators,” Yoon Jeong, mechanical engineering student at the University of California, Berkley (UC Berkley) and co-founder of U.S. Bionics, said. Jeong presented on behalf of Homayoon Kazerooni, PhD, engineering professor at UC Berkley and CEO of U.S. Bionics.
The device features a crutch-mounted user interface and offers standup, sit-down and walking through commands. Its light, modular system allows for greater agility and its battery allows up to 4 hours of continuous walking or 8 hours of intermittent walking on a single charge.
“The Phoenix can be easily worn while seated in a wheelchair and can be configured to match specific user requirements,” Jeong said. “Spine length and stiffness, hip width, leg length and ankle angle can all be adjusted.” It can also be customized with standard leg braces.
The device features beginner and continuous walking modes for users with different levels of injury and amount of training. It is also equipped with an android mobile application that allows the user and clinician to choose gait parameters and analyze collected data.
Jeong said the device allows for walking in an upright posture, potentially reducing secondary injuries and diseases, and could have positive psychological and social impacts for users, ultimately increasing quality of life. – by Shawn M. Carter
Jeong Y. Paper C10. Presented at: American Orthotic and Prosthetic Association National Assembly; Oct. 7-10, 2015; San Antonio.
Disclosure: Jeong reports UC Berkeley is the creator of the Phoenix.