Using Anklebot, a therapeutic robot module, we perturbed human gait by applying external torque to the human ankle at various frequencies. We observed that with a properly designed perturbation, 8 subjects out of 10 exhibited entrained gaits: their gait frequencies were adapted to the frequency of mechanical perturbation, and they synchronized their ankle actuation with the external torque supplied by the robot. This preliminary result suggests that a limit-cycle oscillator, a plausible element of the coupled system of central nervous system and musculo-skeletal periphery, plays a significant role in the neuro-motor execution of human locomotion. The entrainment of human gait by periodic torque from a robotic aid may provide a novel approach to walking therapy that is uniquely supportive of normal biological function.

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