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Walking balance is central to independent mobility, and falls due to loss of balance are a leading cause of death for people 65 years of age and older. Wearable robotic devices, or exoskeletons, could help people with reduced muscle strength and motor con


Walking balance is central to independent mobility, and falls due to loss of balance are a leading cause of death for people 65 years of age and older. Wearable robotic devices, or exoskeletons, could help people with reduced muscle strength and motor control avoid falls by providing stabilizing torques at lower-limb joints. However, it is currently unclear how exoskeleton torques change walking motions. In this study, we used computer simulation to investigate how exoskeleton torques applied to the ankle change the motion of the body’s center of mass. We first created realistic simulations of walking using a biomechanically accurate model. We then simulated the effect of exoskeleton torques applied to the model that plantarflexed (i.e., extended), inverted, or everted the ankle. We found that plantarflexion torques moved the center of mass backwards or forwards, depending on when the torque was applied during the walking cycle. Plantarflexion torques also moved the center of mass upwards. Eversion and inversion torques produced left-right motions of the center of mass. Finally, we found that the force-generating properties of muscles in our model reduced the center of mass changes from exoskeleton torques. Our results can help exoskeleton designers create devices that stabilize walking balance.

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