The development of a gait disorder leads to the loss of the ability to walk and may cause dependence of others in daily life, which is a major determinant in life quality. Thus, devices that provide mobility assistance and ambulatory daily exercises are essential for the health and life quality of such individuals. The ASBGo Smart Walker is an academic project aimed to create a medical solution for rehabilitation of patients with gait disorders. Based on the acquired know-how, the physicians, physiotherapist and patients’ feedback, a new prototype, named ASBGo++ (Plus Plus) was developed, mechanically and electronically improved. This paper will focus on the proposed mechanical, design and ergonomic considerations, enhancing the positive aspects of this smart walker and emphasizing the features that are most highlighted in its design, structure, and functionality.
Bipedal locomotion is one of the most important function of the human body, as it enables the mobility of the body through space, changing, therefore, the position of the person . As part of human locomotion, the human gait affects not only the individual’s locomotion capacity but also the physical and psychological health, and the ability to perform personal tasks. Nonetheless it has the tendency to decrease, gradually, with age as a consequence of neurological, muscular and/or osteoarticular deterioration . Different conditions such as poliomyelitis, spinal cord injuries, stroke, Parkinson, cerebral palsy and multiple sclerosis may lead to gait disorders such as ataxia, waddling, disequilibrium and antalgic, causing a loss of locomotion capacities . Therefore, as daily exercise and rehabilitation may lead to fall prevention and postural stability, the demand for augmentative devices that extend independent living and promote improved health is growing . These devices, help to stable the gait, support the body weight and prevent falling accidents enabling at the same time an adequate progress in the rehabilitation .
In the field of robotic technologies for gait assistance, a well-known augmentative device is the smart walker (SW). Such device empowers the user’s natural mean of locomotion with the help of mechanical structures, electronics, control systems, and sensors. Also, it presents a similar mechanical structure to the four-wheeled walker with a controlled guidance maneuverability.
Joana Alves, Inês Caetano, Eurico Seabra, Cristina P. Santos
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