Few years ago in 2014, the FIFA World Cup was kicked off by a person with lower-limb paralysis using an innovative robotic exoskeleton. In this demonstration, the state-of-the-art of that moment showed the assisted mobility technology, pointed to gait rehabilitation.
Nowadays, exoskeleton technology has improved remarkably, thanks to the hard work between academia and industry. Exo-H3 is the proof of this, being a product designed by researchers for researchers.
About the question, how to kick a ball again? Several approaches could be considered. On one side, when the patients are in the early stages of rehabilitation, we can rely on the neuroplasticity of the brain, using an angular position controller as a passive therapy. We can create our own angular trajectory, and the classic example is the gait pattern; however, we can create any kind of exercise in lower-limb, e.g., kicking a ball. After few sessions, we expect that neuroplasticity has done its job, and the patient could learn how to kick again.
On the other hand, many researchers are interested in designing controllers that allow to improve the patients experience when they are wearing the exoskeleton, predicting the intention of the movement and providing the corresponding force values. In this field, a transparency controller is the key, based on reading the interaction torque from each exoskeleton’s joint and trying to perform a zero torque controller. This picture shows a user, wearing the exoskeleton and kicking the ball, performing our new version of the transparency controller.
We continue improving day after day, implementing cutting-edge technology in our device. New challenges and updates are just around the corner (2022).