Introduction: Difficulties faced while walking are common symptoms after stroke, significantly reducing the quality of life. Walking recovery is therefore one of the main priorities of rehabilitation. Wearable powered exoskeletons have been developed to provide lower limb assistance and enable training for persons with gait impairments by using typical physiological movement patterns. Exoskeletons were originally designed for individuals without any walking capacities, such as subjects with complete spinal cord injuries. Recent systematic reviews suggested that lower limb exoskeletons could be valid tools to restore independent walking in subjects with residual motor function, such as persons post-stroke. To ensure that devices meet end-user needs, it is important to understand and incorporate their perspectives. However, only a limited number of studies have followed such an approach in the post-stroke population. Methods: The aim of the study was to identify the end-users needs and to develop a user-centered-based control system for the TWIN lower limb exoskeleton to provide post-stroke rehabilitation. We thus describe the development and validation, by clinical experts, of TWIN-Acta: a novel control suite for TWIN, specifically designed for persons post-stroke. We detailed the conceived control strategy and developmental phases, and reported evaluation sessions performed on healthy clinical experts and people post-stroke to evaluate TWIN-Acta usability, acceptability, and barriers to usage. At each developmental stage, the clinical experts received a one-day training on the TWIN exoskeleton equipped with the TWIN-Acta control suite. Data on usability, acceptability, and limitations to system usage were collected through questionnaires and semi-structured interviews. Results: The system received overall good usability and acceptability ratings and resulted in a well-conceived and safe approach. All experts gave excellent ratings regarding the possibility of modulating the assistance provided by the exoskeleton during the movement execution and concluded that the TWIN-Acta would be useful in gait rehabilitation for persons post-stroke. The main limit was the low level of system learnability, attributable to the short-time of usage. This issue can be minimized with prolonged training and must be taken into consideration when planning rehabilitation. Discussion: This study showed the potential of the novel control suite TWIN-Acta for gait rehabilitation and efficacy studies are the next step in its evaluation process.

User-centered design and development of TWIN-Acta: A novel control suite of the TWIN lower limb exoskeleton for the rehabilitation of persons post-stroke

Lencioni, Tiziana;Vassallo, Christian;Maludrottu, Stefano;Iandolo, Riccardo;Laffranchi, Matteo;Chiappalone, Michela;De Michieli, Lorenzo;
2022-01-01

Abstract

Introduction: Difficulties faced while walking are common symptoms after stroke, significantly reducing the quality of life. Walking recovery is therefore one of the main priorities of rehabilitation. Wearable powered exoskeletons have been developed to provide lower limb assistance and enable training for persons with gait impairments by using typical physiological movement patterns. Exoskeletons were originally designed for individuals without any walking capacities, such as subjects with complete spinal cord injuries. Recent systematic reviews suggested that lower limb exoskeletons could be valid tools to restore independent walking in subjects with residual motor function, such as persons post-stroke. To ensure that devices meet end-user needs, it is important to understand and incorporate their perspectives. However, only a limited number of studies have followed such an approach in the post-stroke population. Methods: The aim of the study was to identify the end-users needs and to develop a user-centered-based control system for the TWIN lower limb exoskeleton to provide post-stroke rehabilitation. We thus describe the development and validation, by clinical experts, of TWIN-Acta: a novel control suite for TWIN, specifically designed for persons post-stroke. We detailed the conceived control strategy and developmental phases, and reported evaluation sessions performed on healthy clinical experts and people post-stroke to evaluate TWIN-Acta usability, acceptability, and barriers to usage. At each developmental stage, the clinical experts received a one-day training on the TWIN exoskeleton equipped with the TWIN-Acta control suite. Data on usability, acceptability, and limitations to system usage were collected through questionnaires and semi-structured interviews. Results: The system received overall good usability and acceptability ratings and resulted in a well-conceived and safe approach. All experts gave excellent ratings regarding the possibility of modulating the assistance provided by the exoskeleton during the movement execution and concluded that the TWIN-Acta would be useful in gait rehabilitation for persons post-stroke. The main limit was the low level of system learnability, attributable to the short-time of usage. This issue can be minimized with prolonged training and must be taken into consideration when planning rehabilitation. Discussion: This study showed the potential of the novel control suite TWIN-Acta for gait rehabilitation and efficacy studies are the next step in its evaluation process.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11567/1106914
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