The generation of walking motion is one of the most vital functions of the human body because it allows us to be mobile in our environment. Unfortunately, numerous individuals suffer from gait impairment as a result of debilitating conditions like stroke, resulting in a serious loss of mobility. Our understanding of human gait is limited by the amount of research we conduct in relation to human walking mechanisms and their characteristics. In order to better understand these characteristics and the systems involved in the generation of human gait, it is necessary to increase the depth and range of research pertaining to walking motion. Specifically, there has been a lack of investigation into a particular area of human gait research that could potentially yield interesting conclusions about gait rehabilitation, which is the effect of surface stiffness on human gait. In order to investigate this idea, a number of studies have been conducted using experimental devices that focus on changing surface stiffness; however, these systems lack certain functionality that would be useful in an experimental scenario. To solve this problem and to investigate the effect of surface stiffness further, a system has been developed called the Variable Stiffness Treadmill system (VST). This treadmill system is a unique investigative tool that allows for the active control of surface stiffness. What is novel about this system is its ability to change the stiffness of the surface quickly, accurately, during the gait cycle, and throughout a large range of possible stiffness values. This type of functionality in an experimental system has never been implemented and constitutes a tremendous opportunity for valuable gait research in regard to the influence of surface stiffness. In this work, the design, development, and implementation of the Variable Stiffness Treadmill system is presented and discussed along with preliminary experimentation. The results from characterization testing demonstrate highly accurate stiffness control and excellent response characteristics for specific configurations. Initial indications from human experimental trials in relation to quantifiable effects from surface stiffness variation using the Variable Stiffness Treadmill system are encouraging.
- Variable Stiffness Treadmill (VST): Design, Development, and Implementation of a Novel Tool for the Investigation of Human Gait
The date the item was original created (prior to any relationship with the ASU Digital Repositories.)
Collections this item is in