As people age, their speed in walking often deteriorates which can be a frustrating experience. Engineers at Stanford University noticed the pervasiveness of not walking quickly and have tested how a prototype exoskeleton system can be implemented to address the issues and increase the self-selected walking speed of individuals in an experimental setting. The prototype was developed to be attached around the shin and into a running shoe and is powered by an algorithm.
"We were hoping that we could increase walking speed with exoskeleton assistance, but we were really surprised to find such a large improvement," said Steve Collins, associate professor of mechanical engineering at Stanford and senior author of the paper. "Forty percent is huge."
Findings were published in IEEE Transactions on Neural Systems and Rehabilitation Engineering.
So, what exactly is the ankle exoskeleton system? It is an experimental emulator that serves as a test material for trying out different designs. It has a frame that goes around the upper shin and into an integrated running shoe that the participant wears.
Learn more about how walking speed can be a predictor of aging:
"My research mission is to understand the science of biomechanics and motor control behind human locomotion and apply that to enhance the physical performance of humans in daily life," said Seungmoon Song, a postdoctoral fellow in mechanical engineering and lead author of the paper. "I think exoskeletons are very promising tools that could achieve that enhancement in physical quality of life."
Source: Science Daily