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Evaluating the Effects of Ankle-Foot-Orthoses, Functional Electrical Stimulators, and Trip-specific Training on Fall Outcomes in Individuals with Stroke

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This dissertation aimed to evaluate the effectiveness and drawbacks of promising fall prevention strategies in individuals with stroke by rigorously analyzing the biomechanics of laboratory falls and compensatory movements required to prevent a fall. Ankle-foot-orthoses (AFOs) and functional electrical stimulators

This dissertation aimed to evaluate the effectiveness and drawbacks of promising fall prevention strategies in individuals with stroke by rigorously analyzing the biomechanics of laboratory falls and compensatory movements required to prevent a fall. Ankle-foot-orthoses (AFOs) and functional electrical stimulators (FESs) are commonly prescribed to treat foot drop. Despite well-established positive impacts of AFOs and FES devices on balance and gait, AFO and FES users fall at a high rate. In chapter 2 (as a preliminary study), solely mechanical impacts of a semi-rigid AFO on the compensatory stepping response of young healthy individuals following trip-like treadmill perturbations were evaluated. It was found that a semi-rigid AFO on the stepping leg diminished the propulsive impulse of the compensatory step which led to decreased trunk movement control, shorter step length, and reduced center of mass (COM) stability. These results highlight the critical role of plantarflexors in generating an effective compensatory stepping response. In chapter 3, the underlying biomechanical mechanisms leading to high fall risk in long-term AFO and FES users with chronic stroke were studied. It was found that AFO and FES users fall more than Non-users because they have a more impaired lower limb that is not fully addressed by AFO/FES, therefore leading to a more impaired compensatory stepping response characterized by increased inability to generate a compensatory step with paretic leg and decreased trunk movement control. An ideal future AFO that provides dorsiflexion assistance during the swing phase and plantarflexion assistance during the push-off phase of gait is suggested to enhance the compensatory stepping response and reduce more falls. In chapter 4, the effects of a single-session trip-specific training on the compensatory stepping response of individuals with stroke were evaluated. Trunk movement control was improved after a single session of training suggesting that this type of training is a viable option to enhance compensatory stepping response and reduce falls in individuals with stroke. Finally, a future powered AFO with plantarflexion assistance complemented by a trip-specific training program is suggested to enhance the compensatory stepping response and decrease falls in individuals with stroke.

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2019

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Gait Dynamic Stability Analysis with Wearable Assistive Robots

Description

Lower-limb wearable assistive robots could alter the users gait kinematics by inputting external power, which can be interpreted as mechanical perturbation to subject normal gait. The change in kinematics may affect the dynamic stability. This work attempts to understand the

Lower-limb wearable assistive robots could alter the users gait kinematics by inputting external power, which can be interpreted as mechanical perturbation to subject normal gait. The change in kinematics may affect the dynamic stability. This work attempts to understand the effects of different physical assistance from these robots on the gait dynamic stability.

A knee exoskeleton and ankle assistive device (Robotic Shoe) are developed and used to provide walking assistance. The knee exoskeleton provides personalized knee joint assistive torque during the stance phase. The robotic shoe is a light-weighted mechanism that can store the potential energy at heel strike and release it by using an active locking mechanism at the terminal stance phase to provide push-up ankle torque and assist the toe-off. Lower-limb Kinematic time series data are collected for subjects wearing these devices in the passive and active mode. The changes of kinematics with and without these devices on lower-limb motion are first studied. Orbital stability, as one of the commonly used measure to quantify gait stability through calculating Floquet Multipliers (FM), is employed to asses the effects of these wearable devices on gait stability. It is shown that wearing the passive knee exoskeleton causes less orbitally stable gait for users, while the knee joint active assistance improves the orbital stability compared to passive mode. The robotic shoe only affects the targeted joint (right ankle) kinematics, and wearing the passive mechanism significantly increases the ankle joint FM values, which indicates less walking orbital stability. More analysis is done on a mechanically perturbed walking public data set, to show that orbital stability can quantify the effects of external mechanical perturbation on gait dynamic stability. This method can further be used as a control design tool to ensure gait stability for users of lower-limb assistive devices.

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2018

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Characterization of 2D Human Ankle Stiffness during Postural Balance and Walking for Robot-aided Ankle Rehabilitation

Description

The human ankle is a vital joint in the lower limb of the human body. As the point of interaction between the human neuromuscular system and the physical world, the ankle plays important role in lower extremity functions including postural

The human ankle is a vital joint in the lower limb of the human body. As the point of interaction between the human neuromuscular system and the physical world, the ankle plays important role in lower extremity functions including postural balance and locomotion . Accurate characterization of ankle mechanics in lower extremity function is essential not just to advance the design and control of robots physically interacting with the human lower extremities but also in rehabilitation of humans suffering from neurodegenerative disorders.

In order to characterize the ankle mechanics and understand the underlying mechanisms that influence the neuromuscular properties of the ankle, a novel multi-axial robotic platform was developed. The robotic platform is capable of simulating various haptic environments and transiently perturbing the ankle to analyze the neuromechanics of the ankle, specifically the ankle impedance. Humans modulate ankle impedance to perform various tasks of the lower limb. The robotic platform is used to analyze the modulation of ankle impedance during postural balance and locomotion on various haptic environments. Further, various factors that influence modulation of ankle impedance were identified. Using the factors identified during environment dependent impedance modulation studies, the quantitative relationship between these factors, namely the muscle activation of major ankle muscles, the weight loading on ankle and the torque generation at the ankle was analyzed during postural balance and locomotion. A universal neuromuscular model of the ankle that quantitatively relates ankle stiffness, the major component of ankle impedance, to these factors was developed.

This neuromuscular model is then used as a basis to study the alterations caused in ankle behavior due to neurodegenerative disorders such as Multiple Sclerosis and Stroke. Pilot studies to validate the analysis of altered ankle behavior and demonstrate the effectiveness of robotic rehabilitation protocols in addressing the altered ankle behavior were performed. The pilot studies demonstrate that the altered ankle mechanics can be quantified in the affected populations and correlate with the observed adverse effects of the disability. Further, robotic rehabilitation protocols improve ankle control in affected populations as seen through functional improvements in postural balance and locomotion, validating the neuromuscular approach for rehabilitation.

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2020

Efficiency Based Flight Analysis for a Novel Quadcopter System

Description

For a conventional quadcopter system with 4 planar rotors, flight times vary between 10 to 20 minutes depending on the weight of the quadcopter and the size of the battery used. In order to increase the flight time, either the

For a conventional quadcopter system with 4 planar rotors, flight times vary between 10 to 20 minutes depending on the weight of the quadcopter and the size of the battery used. In order to increase the flight time, either the weight of the quadcopter should be reduced or the battery size should be increased. Another way is to increase the efficiency of the propellers. Previous research shows that ducting a propeller can cause an increase of up to 94 % in the thrust produced by the rotor-duct system. This research focused on developing and testing a quadcopter having a centrally ducted rotor which produces 60 % of the total system thrust and 3 other peripheral rotors. This quadcopter will provide longer flight times while having the same maneuvering flexibility in planar movements.

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2019