Wearable modular device to facilitate walking rehabilitation

March 11, 2016
Wearable modular device to facilitate walking rehabilitation
The wearable walking assist device in action

In collaboration with Suncall Corporation, and with support provided by the Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST) under the Center of Innovation (COI) Program, Professor Tadao Tsuboyama of the Graduate School of Medicine and his collaborators have recently succeeded in developing an "Attached Robotic Unit Knee-Ankle-Foot Orthothesis", a modular wearable walking assist device designed to aid the rehabilitation of people with walking difficulties.

The consists of a motor-and-sensor unit that can be attached to a knee-ankle-foot orthosis (KAFO) to guide the wearer through walking movements.

A wide variety of rehabilitation robots is available today to help patients of stroke and spinal cord injury recover from walking difficulties. With their large sizes, however, many of those devices can place a significant burden on both the patient and therapist, preventing wider adoption. Smaller, more efficient robots that meet the needs of users are in much demand.

Professor Tsuboyama and his team at the Human Health Sciences Department of KU Graduate School of Medicine created the modular device concept based on the medical understanding of post-stroke rehabilitation and of the robotic technologies that can be applied to the process. Kyoto Institute of Technology (KIT) designed the control algorithm, and Suncall developed the hardware in collaboration with Kawamura Gishi Co Ltd and Funai Electric Co Ltd.


  1. Ease of use to encourage practical use
  2. The light-weight sensor-motor module can be attached to any type of KAFO to turn it into a walking assist robot. The device can be used with either leg to accommodate a wide range of conditions.
  3. High functionality to facilitate rehabilitation
  4. Based on an understanding of human walking movements and those of post-stroke hemiplegia patients, the device automatically assesses the user's gait characteristics to enable effective training.

Robots designed to support the rehabilitation of people who have difficulties with daily activities have become icons of "human-robot collaboration". The newly developed walking assist device represents a step forward in the development of such robots, and can lead to the advent of wearable solutions to walking difficulties.

Beginning in FY2016, the device will be tested for safety and efficacy at hospitals and rehabilitation centers.

At the same time, the project team will work on computer programs for the training of other movements, such as climbing up and down the stairs, so as to expand the device's versatility to make it useful for different types of difficulties (such as those resulting from stroke, spinal cord injury, and cerebral palsy).

Also in development are additional modules to enhance training efficacy (such as one focused on motor assessment).

Explore further: Unique walking robot moves into rehabilitation clinic

Related Stories

Unique walking robot moves into rehabilitation clinic

May 14, 2014

The LOPES II rehabilitation robot has been taken into use by the Roessingh rehabilitation centre in Enschede and the Sint Maartenskliniek in Nijmegen. In the coming weeks, the first patients in the Netherlands with, for example, ...

A wearable robotic sleeve for upper limb rehabilitation

May 14, 2015

A wearable FES-robot hybrid training system has been designed for multi-joint upper limb rehabilitation. With successful combination of the two technologies' advantages, recovery achieved by the hybrid system was more prominent ...

Robot legs helping stroke patients

September 26, 2011

(Medical Xpress) -- When it comes to recovering from a stroke, one of the major goals or rehabilitation is learning how to walk again. Researchers in the Netherlands are working with a prototype device called the LOwer Extremity ...

Recommended for you

Volumetric 3-D printing builds on need for speed

December 11, 2017

While additive manufacturing (AM), commonly known as 3-D printing, is enabling engineers and scientists to build parts in configurations and designs never before possible, the impact of the technology has been limited by ...

Tech titans ramp up tools to win over children

December 10, 2017

From smartphone messaging tailored for tikes to computers for classrooms, technology titans are weaving their way into childhoods to form lifelong bonds, raising hackles of advocacy groups.

Mapping out a biorobotic future  

December 8, 2017

You might not think a research area as detailed, technically advanced and futuristic as building robots with living materials would need help getting organized, but that's precisely what Vickie Webster-Wood and a team from ...

Lyft puts driverless cars to work in Boston

December 6, 2017

Lyft on Wednesday began rolling out self-driving cars with users of the smartphone-summoned ride service in Boston in a project with technology partner nuTonomy.


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.