Design of a Lower Extremity Exoskeleton to Increase Knee ROM during Valgus Bracing for Osteoarthritic Gait
Description: Knee osteoarthritis (KOA) is the primary cause of chronic immobility in populations over the age of 65. It is a joint degenerative disease in which the articular cartilage in the knee joint wears down over time, leading to symptoms of pain, instability, joint stiffness, and misalignment of the lower extremities. Without intervention, these symptoms gradually worsen over time, decreasing the overall knee range of motion (ROM) and ability to walk. Current clinical interventions include offloading braces, which mechanically realign the lower extremities to alleviate the pain experienced in the medial compartment of the knee joint. Though these braces have proven effective in pain management, studies have shown a significant decrease in knee ROM while using the brace. Concurrently, development of active exoskeletons for rehabilitative gait has increased within recent years in efforts to provide patients with a more effective intervention for dealing with KOA. Though some developed exoskeletons are promising in their efficacy of fostering gait therapy, these devices are heavy, tethered, difficult to control, unavailable to patients, or costly due to the number of complicated components used to manufacture the device. However, the idea that an active component can improve gait therapy for patients motivates this study. This study proposes the design of an adjustable lower extremity exoskeleton which features a single linear actuator adapted onto a commercially available offloading brace. This design hopes to provide patients with pain alleviation from the brace, while also actively driving the knee through flexion and extension. The design and execution of this exoskeleton was accomplished by 3D computer simulation, 3D CAD modeling, and rapid prototyping techniques. The exoskeleton features 3D printed, ABS plastic struts and supports to achieve successful adaptation of the linear actuator to the brace and an electromechanical system with a rechargeable operating capacity of 7 hours. Design validation was ...
Date: May 2017
Creator: Cao, Jennifer M
Partner: UNT Libraries