Experimental studies on kinematics and kinetics of walking with an assistive knee brace

Assistive knee brace is a species of wearable lower extremity exoskeletons. Such assistive equipment can enhance people's strength and provide desired locomotion to have advantages over wheelchairs, which are commonly used for patients with mobility disorders. However, the integration between the assistive knee brace and the user is challenging as inaccurate alignments may adversely affect the biomechanics of the knee joint. The goal of this study is to evaluate the changes between normal walking and walking with an assistive knee brace in "off" mode. The assistive knee brace was developed by integrating a multifunctional actuator with a custom-made knee-ankle-foot orthosis in order to minimize excessive shifting and to improve alignment to the knee joint. Spatial and temporal gait parameters, joint kinematics and joint kinetics parameters were compared. In general, the observed results showed that most of the gait parameters were not affected when walking with the knee brace. The only significant differences were found in knee flexion and knee rotational motions. These results indicated that walking with the developed knee brace provided minimal hindrance to the user and assured that assistive torque can be applied to the knee joint.