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Critical Reviews™ in Biomedical Engineering

ISSN Print: 0278-940X
ISSN Online: 1943-619X

Critical Reviews™ in Biomedical Engineering

DOI: 10.1615/CritRevBiomedEng.2014010453
pages 343-363

A Review of Lower Extremity Assistive Robotic Exoskeletons in Rehabilitation Therapy

Gong Chen
Department of Biomedical Engineering, National University of Singapore, Singapore
Chow Khuen Chan
Department of Biomedical Engineering, National University of Singapore, Singapore
Zhao Guo
Department of Biomedical Engineering, National University of Singapore, Singapore
Haoyong Yu
Department of Biomedical Engineering, National University of Singapore, Singapore

ABSTRACT

The rapid advancement of robotics technology in recent years has pushed the development of a distinctive field of robotic applications, namely robotic exoskeletons. Because of the aging population, more people are suffering from neurological disorders such as stroke, central nervous system disorder, and spinal cord injury. As manual therapy seems to be physically demanding for both the patient and therapist, robotic exoskeletons have been developed to increase the efficiency of rehabilitation therapy. Robotic exoskeletons are capable of providing more intensive patient training, better quantitative feedback, and improved functional outcomes for patients compared to manual therapy. This review emphasizes treadmill-based and over-ground exoskeletons for rehabilitation. Analyses of their mechanical designs, actuation systems, and integrated control strategies are given priority because the interactions between these components are crucial for the optimal performance of the rehabilitation robot. The review also discusses the limitations of current exoskeletons and technical challenges faced in exoskeleton development. A general perspective of the future development of more effective robot exoskeletons, specifically real-time biological synergy-based exoskeletons, could help promote brain plasticity among neurologically impaired patients and allow them to regain normal walking ability.