Goal: The goal of this project is to investigate machine learning-based optimization algorithms of assistive torque control of a lightweight knee exoskeleton to maximize gait performance (i.e., walk upright) and evaluate the biomechanical benefits in children with crouch gait walking overground. This project is in the stage of intervention development and intervention efficacy. The project aims to address the outcome domains of health and function and community living and participation. Our long-term vision is that early intervention with sensor-driven and lightweight exoskeletons will counter the declining trajectories of motor development through improved mobility and reduced musculoskeletal pathology by ambulation assistance of children with cerebral palsy.
This project will capitalize on the knowledge and experience of leading researchers in wearable robotics (Dr. Hao Su, his PhD student Israel Dominguez and postdoc fellow Dr. Susan Luo), pediatric rehabilitation (Dr. JenFu Cheng at Children’s Specialized Hospital), neurorehabilitation (Dr. Guang Yue at Kessler Foundation), and orthotics (Brent Wright, EastPoint Prosthetics & Orthotics, Inc.) with the complementary areas of expertise necessary to carry out the proposed research in state-of-the-art facilities at Kessler Foundation on pediatric gait rehabilitation and clinical efficacy evaluation.
Objectives: Personalized control of exoskeletons tailored to data-driven mobility prognoses will result in immediate gait improvements. We will leverage a lightweight and compliant pediatric knee exoskeleton developed in the PI’s lab to
1) optimize assistive torque control profile of the exoskeleton with machine learning algorithms to elicit the largest improvement in knee kinematics in children with crouch gait walking overground;
2) evaluate the effect of the gait biomechanics of overground walking in children with crouch gait.
Products include pediatric exoskeleton porotypes, novel algorithms to improve gait by optimization of real-time children mobility performance, clinical evidence to understand efficacy of a lightweight exoskeleton device, and archival journal papers disseminating the methods and results to users, practitioners, and to the scientific and professional communities in the field of assistive technology.