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Exoskeleton Devices

(a Biomedical Instrument)

What are Exoskeleton Devices?


Exoskeleton Device is a bionic suit which helps an individual with any amount of
lower extremity weakness to stand up or walk over ground with a natural, full
weight bearing reciprocal gait.Walking is achieved by users weights shift to
activate sensors in the device which initiate steps. Battery powered motors drive
the legs, replacing deficient neuromuscular function.

Need of these devices


An exoskeleton essentially does the walking for its wearer.
Provide means for the people with as much as complete paralysis to
stand and walk.
Facilitates sheer step dosage over ground

How does it functions?

The sensors continuously observe and regulate a persons posture and


return them to the balance point. They can also adjust the control level
based on how much muscle strength wearers have.
The gait suit is strapped over the users clothing with easy adjustments
to transition between patients in as little as five minutes
To stand up, the wearer tilts his torso forward. Once up, the wearer tilts
his upper body forward again, making the device vibrate around the
waist of the exoskeleton.
That indicates that a step forward is imminent. If he pulls back a bit, it
stops, but if he stays tilted slightly it will continue moving his legs until he

leans back a little. This is same way we learn to walk, by controlling our
fall by stepping a leg forward.
Eventually, we stop thinking were falling and start walking in every
direction. The Exoskeleton machine makes the step for an immobile leg,
and turning a corner is more about making tiny shoulder turns in the
direction you want to go.

Exoskeletons and Orthoses: Classification


Exoskeletons and orthoses are defined as mechanical devices that are
essentially anthropomorphic in nature, are 'worn' by an operator and fit
closely to the body, and work in concert with the operator's movements.
In general, the term 'exoskeleton' is used to describe a device that
augments the performance of an able-bodied wearer, whereas the term
'orthosis' is typically used to describe a device that is used to assist a
person with a limb pathology.
Series-limb exoskeletons :
Elastic exoskeletons in series with the human leg have been developed that store
and release far greater strain energy than the running track surface or the
Springbuck shoe (~5 Joules/step for track and shoe versus ~80 Joules/step for
elastic exoskeletons), and therefore it was believed that such exoskeletons would
augment human running speed and economy. Notable inventions in this
exoskeletal class are the PowerSkip and the SpringWalker. However, although
these devices clearly augment jumping height, they have not been shown to
improve peak running speed nor running economy. In fact, in a study conducted
by the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine (ARIEM) in Natick,
Massachusetts, the SpringWalker increased metabolic cost by 20% compared to
locomotion without the device. For this study, mass was added to the subject's
back equal to the SpringWalker mass.

a.A springbuck shoe , b.Powerskip Exoskeleton


c.Spring Walker Exoskeleton
Parallel-limb exoskeletons for load transfer :
These exoskeletons act in parallel with the human lower limb for load transfer to
the ground. An in-series leg exoskeleton like the SpringWalker increases the
metabolic cost of running because the limb length of the human plus machine is
substantially increased, thereby increasing both the work at the hip to protract
the leg during the aerial phase and the overall energetic demand to stabilize
movement, overcoming any potential advantage of extending limb length.
Additionally, with an in-series leg exoskeleton device, the ground reaction forces
are still borne by the human leg. In contrast, with a parallel mechanism, body
weight could be transferred through the exoskeleton directly to the ground,
decreasing the loads borne by the biological limbs and lowering the metabolic
demands to walk, run, and hop. Furthermore, such a parallel exoskeleton would
not increase limb length, thereby not increasing the overall energetic demand to
stabilize movement.

Discussion And Design Challenges


To this point, the reported advantages of complete, autonomous exoskeleton
systems are largely anecdotal. Indeed, there is a marked lack of published
quantitative performance results for exoskeleton devices that reportedly improve
human locomotion. Certainly, there is value in an exoskeleton that enables the
wearer to perform a task that he or she could not otherwise perform. However, if
exoskeletons intended to facilitate tasks that could otherwise still be performed
by the wearer (e.g., load carrying) do not reduce the metabolic cost and/or
fatigue of the operator, they have very little value. Besides locomotory

performance as assessed by metabolic cost evaluations, other performance


measures that would be appropriate for these types of systems include the
reduction of forces borne by the musculoskeletal system, the reduction of muscle
fatigue, and the improvement of bipedal stability.
Rather than minimizing the accomplishments that have been made in the field,
the lack of quantitative results with exoskeletons instead highlights the numerous
challenges associated with creating them. There are, of course, many design
challenges that may lead to poor exoskeleton performance:-

1. Misalignment of joints between operator and hardware


2. Kinematic constraints from attachments such as harnesses and cuffs
3. Design not optimized for load-carrying gait, added forces to the
operator that resist motion
4. Addition of power in a optimal manner (e.g. too little, too much), among
others. All of these problems are very difficult to address, however, and
there is much opportunity for fundamental studies addressing these
challenges.
Active orthoses
Besides sharing many of the challenges facing performance- enhancing
exoskeletons, active orthoses face the daunting issue that the specific nature of a
disability varies widely from one patient to the next. This makes the development
of a generally applicable device difficult. This is, in fact, a challenge for many
assistive devices. To our knowledge, there are no commercially available
autonomous orthoses that provide active assistance to the wearer. Exoskeletons
that are purely meant for clinical therapy purposes are currently effective as
stand-alone, treadmill- based devices such as the Lokomat; however, there is
great value in developing a portable device that can be used outside of the clinic.
Ideally, one would like a compact, energetically autonomous orthoses that can
provide both assistance and therapy during the wearers every day life.

Future Work
Future directions in work related to the creation of exoskeletons and active
orthotic devices will likely center around the enabling technologies such as
power supplies, actuators, and transmissions that are lightweight and efficient.
Interestingly, a large portion of these developments necessary for further
advances in exoskeleton technology are currently being driven by the
exoskeleton research community itself, and not by other, more pervasive
applications such as those that drove developments in computing, sensing, and
control.
There are a few areas related to the mechanical design of exoskeletons that show
promise and have been largely overlooked. An improved understanding of
muscle and tendon function in walking and other movement tasks may shed light

on more effective exoskeleton leg architectures. Gait models based on actual


machine elements that capture the major features of human locomotion may
enhance the understanding of human leg morphology and control, and lead to
analogous improvements in the design of efficient, low mass exoskeletons. Also,
there has been little work with recreational exoskeletons such as those that
augment running or jumping ability, and this area is likely to be a focus in the
future.