Research ArticleNEUROREHABILITATION

A soft robotic exosuit improves walking in patients after stroke

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Science Translational Medicine  26 Jul 2017:
Vol. 9, Issue 400, eaai9084
DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aai9084

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A softer recovery after stroke

Passive assistance devices such as canes and braces are often used by people after stroke, but mobility remains limited for some patients. Awad et al. studied the effects of active assistance (delivery of supportive force) during walking in nine patients in the chronic phase of stroke recovery. A soft robotic exosuit worn on the partially paralyzed lower limb reduced interlimb propulsion asymmetry, increased ankle dorsiflexion, and reduced the energy required to walk when powered on during treadmill and overground walking tests. The exosuit could be adjusted to deliver supportive force during the early or late phase of the gait cycle depending on the patient’s needs. Although long-term therapeutic studies are necessary, the immediate improvement in walking performance observed using the powered exosuit makes this a promising approach for neurorehabilitation.