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Journal of Robotics
Volume 2011, Article ID 284352, 8 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2011/284352
Research Article

Mina: A Sensorimotor Robotic Orthosis for Mobility Assistance

Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition, 40 South Alcaniz Street, Pensacola, FL 32502, USA

Received 2 June 2011; Revised 10 September 2011; Accepted 15 October 2011

Academic Editor: Tetsuya Mouri

Copyright © 2011 Anil K. Raj et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

While most mobility options for persons with paraplegia or paraparesis employ wheeled solutions, significant adverse health, psychological, and social consequences result from wheelchair confinement. Modern robotic exoskeleton devices for gait assistance and rehabilitation, however, can support legged locomotion systems for those with lower extremity weakness or paralysis. The Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition (IHMC) has developed the Mina, a prototype sensorimotor robotic orthosis for mobility assistance that provides mobility capability for paraplegic and paraparetic users. This paper describes the initial concept, design goals, and methods of this wearable overground robotic mobility device, which uses compliant actuation to power the hip and knee joints. Paralyzed users can balance and walk using the device over level terrain with the assistance of forearm crutches employing a quadrupedal gait. We have initiated sensory substitution feedback mechanisms to augment user sensory perception of his or her lower extremities. Using this sensory feedback, we hypothesize that users will ambulate with a more natural, upright gait and will be able to directly control the gait parameters and respond to perturbations. This may allow bipedal (with minimal support) gait in future prototypes.