Modular hip exoskeleton improves walking function and reduces sedentary time in community-dwelling older adults

Chandrasekaran Jayaraman, Kyle R. Embry, Chaithanya K. Mummidisetty, Yaejin Moon, Matt Giffhorn, Sara Prokup, Bokman Lim, Jusuk Lee, Younbaek Lee, Minhyung Lee, Arun Jayaraman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: Despite the benefits of physical activity for healthy physical and cognitive aging, 35% of adults over the age of 75 in the United States are inactive. Robotic exoskeleton-based exercise studies have shown benefits in improving walking function, but most are conducted in clinical settings with a neurologically impaired population. Emerging technology is starting to enable easy-to-use, lightweight, wearable robots, but their impact in the otherwise healthy older adult population remains mostly unknown. For the first time, this study investigates the feasibility and efficacy of using a lightweight, modular hip exoskeleton for in-community gait training in the older adult population to improve walking function. Methods: Twelve adults over the age of 65 were enrolled in a gait training intervention involving twelve 30-min sessions using the Gait Enhancing and Motivating System for Hip in their own senior living community. Results: Performance-based outcome measures suggest clinically significant improvements in balance, gait speed, and endurance following the exoskeleton training, and the device was safe and well tolerated. Gait speed below 1.0 m/s is an indicator of fall risk, and two out of the four participants below this threshold increased their self-selected gait speed over 1.0 m/s after intervention. Time spent in sedentary behavior also decreased significantly. Conclusions: This intervention resulted in greater improvements in speed and endurance than traditional exercise programs, in significantly less time. Together, our results demonstrated that exoskeleton-based gait training is an effective intervention and novel approach to encouraging older adults to exercise and reduce sedentary time, while improving walking function. Future work will focus on whether the device can be used independently long-term by older adults as an everyday exercise and community-use personal mobility device. Trial registration This study was retrospectively registered with ClinicalTrials.gov (ID: NCT05197127).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number144
JournalJournal of neuroengineering and rehabilitation
Volume19
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2022

Keywords

  • Aging
  • Clinical outcomes
  • Exoskeleton
  • Fall prevention
  • Gait training

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics
  • Rehabilitation

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