Spinal cord injuries leave thousands of patients confined to wheelchairs, resulting in a life of severely limited mobility. This condition also subjects them to the risk of secondary injuries. Because exoskeletons are externally driven machines in which the actuation is coupled to the person’s joints, they offer an ideal method to help paraplegics walk. The exoskeleton presented here is a mobile, battery powered device that uses hydraulically actuated hip and knee joints in the sagittal plane to move a patient’s joints. The control strategy mimics standard human walking using foot sensors to determine the walking state. This activates position control of the joints to follow standard walking trajectories based on clinical gait analysis data. Initial patient testing of the device showed that the exoskeleton enabled one incomplete paraplegic to significantly improve his gait function and three complete paraplegic patients to walk.

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