Mechanical Design and Control System Development of a Rehabilitation Robotic System for Walking With Arm Swing

Fang, Juan; Hunt, Kenneth James (2021). Mechanical Design and Control System Development of a Rehabilitation Robotic System for Walking With Arm Swing Frontiers in Rehabilitation Sciences, 2 Frontiers Media SA 10.3389/fresc.2021.720182

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Background: Interlimb neural coupling implies that arm swing should be included during gait training to improve rehabilitation outcomes. We previously developed several systems for production of walking with arm swing, but the reaction forces on the foot sole during usage of the systems were not satisfactory and there was potential to improve control system performance. This work aimed to design and technically evaluate a novel system for producing walking with synchronised arm and leg movement and with dynamic force loading on the foot soles. Methods: The robotic system included a passive curved treadmill and a trunk frame, upon which the rigs for the upper and lower limbs were mounted. Ten actuators and servocontrollers with EtherCAT communication protocol controlled the bilateral shoulder, elbow, hip, knee and ankle joints. Impedance control algorithms were developed and ran in an industrial PC. Flexible pressure sensors recorded the plantar forces on the foot soles. The criteria of implementation and responsiveness were used to formally evaluate the technical feasibility of the system. Results: Using impedance algorithms, the system produced synchronous walking with arm swing on the curved treadmill, with mean RMS angular tracking error <2° in the 10 joint profiles. The foot trajectories relative to the hip presented similar shapes to those during normal gait, with mean RMS displacement error <1.5 cm. A force pattern that started at the heel and finished at the forefoot was observed during walking using the system, which was similar to the pattern from overground walking. Conclusion: The robotic system produced walking-like kinematics in the 10 joints and in the foot trajectories. Integrated with the curved treadmill, the system also produced walking-like force patterns on the foot soles. The system is considered feasible as far as implementation and responsiveness are concerned. Future work will focus on improvement of the mechanical system for future clinical application.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


School of Engineering and Computer Science > Institut für Rehabilitation und Leistungstechnologie IRPT
BFH Centres and strategic thematic fields > BFH centre for Health technologies
School of Engineering and Computer Science > Institute for Human Centered Engineering (HUCE) > Digital Health Lab


Fang, Juan and
Hunt, Kenneth James




Frontiers Media SA




Juan Fang

Date Deposited:

17 Dec 2021 15:36

Last Modified:

17 Dec 2021 15:36

Publisher DOI:





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