ABLE Exo provides physiological gait

Recovering the ability to stand and walk independently can have numerous health benefits for people with spinal cord injury (SCI).


Exoskeletons are seen as a promising alternative to traditional knee-ankle-foot orthoses (KAFOs) for gait training and assisting functional mobility in people with SCI. However, comparisons between these two types of devices in terms of gait biomechanics and energetics have been limited. Our research study compared the ABLE Exoskeleton with KAFOs in a randomized, crossover clinical trial at ASEPEYO Hospital Barcelona with 10 SCI patients that completed a 10-session gait training program with each device followed by user satisfaction questionnaires. 


Walking with the ABLE Exoskeleton improved gait kinematics compared to the KAFOs, providing a more physiological gait pattern with less compensatory movements (38% reduction of circumduction, 25% increase of step length, 29% improvement in weight shifting).


Participants were also more satisfied with the ABLE device. However, improvements in gait kinematics did not extend to significant improvements in energy efficiency.

These results suggest that providing powered assistance only on the knee joints is not enough to significantly reduce the energy consumption required by people with SCI to walk compared to passive orthoses. Active assistance on the hip or ankle joints seems necessary to achieve this outcome. The findings of this clinical trial were key to improve the ABLE Exoskeleton and develop its final version that includes active assistance on the hip.


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