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Enhancing performance during inclined loaded walking with a powered ankle-foot exoskeleton

Samuel Galle (UGent) , Philippe Malcolm (UGent) , Wim Derave (UGent) and Dirk De Clercq (UGent)
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Abstract
A simple ankle-foot exoskeleton that assists plantarflexion during push-off can reduce the metabolic power during walking. This suggests that walking performance during a maximal incremental exercise could be improved with an exoskeleton if the exoskeleton is still efficient during maximal exercise intensities. Therefore, we quantified the walking performance during a maximal incremental exercise test with a powered and unpowered exoskeleton: uphill walking with progressively higher weights. Nine female subjects performed two incremental exercise tests with an exoskeleton: 1 day with (powered condition) and another day without (unpowered condition) plantarflexion assistance. Subjects walked on an inclined treadmill (15 %) at 5 km h(-1) and 5 % of body weight was added every 3 min until exhaustion. At volitional termination no significant differences were found between the powered and unpowered condition for blood lactate concentration (respectively, 7.93 +/- A 2.49; 8.14 +/- A 2.24 mmol L-1), heart rate (respectively, 190.00 +/- A 6.50; 191.78 +/- A 6.50 bpm), Borg score (respectively, 18.57 +/- A 0.79; 18.93 +/- A 0.73) and peak (respectively, 40.55 +/- A 2.78; 40.55 +/- A 3.05 ml min(-1) kg(-1)). Thus, subjects were able to reach the same (near) maximal effort in both conditions. However, subjects continued the exercise test longer in the powered condition and carried 7.07 +/- A 3.34 kg more weight because of the assistance of the exoskeleton. Our results show that plantarflexion assistance during push-off can increase walking performance during a maximal exercise test as subjects were able to carry more weight. This emphasizes the importance of acting on the ankle joint in assistive devices and the potential of simple ankle-foot exoskeletons for reducing metabolic power and increasing weight carrying capability, even during maximal intensities.
Keywords
GAIT, LOCOMOTION, CARRIAGE, OXYGEN-UPTAKE, SLOPED SURFACES, REFERENCE VALUES, METABOLIC COST, ENERGY-EXPENDITURE, SPINAL-CORD-INJURY, LOWER-EXTREMITY EXOSKELETON, Exhaustion, Maximal exercise, Exercise test, Performance, Loaded walking, Uphill walking, Locomotion, Ankle-foot exoskeleton

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Chicago
Galle, Samuel, Philippe Malcolm, Wim Derave, and Dirk De Clercq. 2014. “Enhancing Performance During Inclined Loaded Walking with a Powered Ankle-foot Exoskeleton.” European Journal of Applied Physiology 114 (11): 2341–2351.
APA
Galle, S., Malcolm, P., Derave, W., & De Clercq, D. (2014). Enhancing performance during inclined loaded walking with a powered ankle-foot exoskeleton. EUROPEAN JOURNAL OF APPLIED PHYSIOLOGY, 114(11), 2341–2351.
Vancouver
1.
Galle S, Malcolm P, Derave W, De Clercq D. Enhancing performance during inclined loaded walking with a powered ankle-foot exoskeleton. EUROPEAN JOURNAL OF APPLIED PHYSIOLOGY. 2014;114(11):2341–51.
MLA
Galle, Samuel, Philippe Malcolm, Wim Derave, et al. “Enhancing Performance During Inclined Loaded Walking with a Powered Ankle-foot Exoskeleton.” EUROPEAN JOURNAL OF APPLIED PHYSIOLOGY 114.11 (2014): 2341–2351. Print.
@article{5806735,
  abstract     = {A simple ankle-foot exoskeleton that assists plantarflexion during push-off can reduce the metabolic power during walking. This suggests that walking performance during a maximal incremental exercise could be improved with an exoskeleton if the exoskeleton is still efficient during maximal exercise intensities. Therefore, we quantified the walking performance during a maximal incremental exercise test with a powered and unpowered exoskeleton: uphill walking with progressively higher weights. 
Nine female subjects performed two incremental exercise tests with an exoskeleton: 1 day with (powered condition) and another day without (unpowered condition) plantarflexion assistance. Subjects walked on an inclined treadmill (15 \%) at 5 km h(-1) and 5 \% of body weight was added every 3 min until exhaustion. 
At volitional termination no significant differences were found between the powered and unpowered condition for blood lactate concentration (respectively, 7.93 +/- A 2.49; 8.14 +/- A 2.24 mmol L-1), heart rate (respectively, 190.00 +/- A 6.50; 191.78 +/- A 6.50 bpm), Borg score (respectively, 18.57 +/- A 0.79; 18.93 +/- A 0.73) and peak (respectively, 40.55 +/- A 2.78; 40.55 +/- A 3.05 ml min(-1) kg(-1)). Thus, subjects were able to reach the same (near) maximal effort in both conditions. However, subjects continued the exercise test longer in the powered condition and carried 7.07 +/- A 3.34 kg more weight because of the assistance of the exoskeleton. 
Our results show that plantarflexion assistance during push-off can increase walking performance during a maximal exercise test as subjects were able to carry more weight. This emphasizes the importance of acting on the ankle joint in assistive devices and the potential of simple ankle-foot exoskeletons for reducing metabolic power and increasing weight carrying capability, even during maximal intensities.},
  author       = {Galle, Samuel and Malcolm, Philippe and Derave, Wim and De Clercq, Dirk},
  issn         = {1439-6319},
  journal      = {EUROPEAN JOURNAL OF APPLIED PHYSIOLOGY},
  keyword      = {GAIT,LOCOMOTION,CARRIAGE,OXYGEN-UPTAKE,SLOPED SURFACES,REFERENCE VALUES,METABOLIC COST,ENERGY-EXPENDITURE,SPINAL-CORD-INJURY,LOWER-EXTREMITY EXOSKELETON,Exhaustion,Maximal exercise,Exercise test,Performance,Loaded walking,Uphill walking,Locomotion,Ankle-foot exoskeleton},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {11},
  pages        = {2341--2351},
  title        = {Enhancing performance during inclined loaded walking with a powered ankle-foot exoskeleton},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00421-014-2955-1},
  volume       = {114},
  year         = {2014},
}

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