Review of hybrid exoskeletons to restore gait following spinal cord injury

Antonio J. del-Ama, Aikaterini D. Koutsou, Juan C. Moreno, Ana de-los-Reyes, Ángel Gil-Agudo, Jose L Pons

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

124 Scopus citations


Different approaches are available to compensate gait in persons with spinal cord injury, including passive orthoses, functional electrical stimulation (FES), and robotic exoskeletons. However, several drawbacks arise from each specific approach. Orthotic gait is energy-demanding for the user and functionally ineffective. FES uses the muscles as natural actuators to generate gait, providing not only functional but also psychological benefits to the users. However, disadvantages are also related to the early appearance of muscle fatigue and the control of joint trajectories. Robotic exoskeletons that provide joint moment compensation or substitution to the body during walking have been developed in recent years. Significant advances have been achieved, but the technology itself is not mature yet because of many limitations related to both physical and cognitive interaction as well as portability and energy-management issues. Meanwhile, the combination of FES technology and exoskeletons has emerged as a promising approach to both gait compensation and rehabilitation, bringing together technologies, methods, and rehabilitation principles that can overcome the drawbacks of each individual approach. This article presents an overview of hybrid lower-limb exoskeletons, related technologies, and advances in actuation and control systems. Also, we highlight the functional assessment of individuals with spinal cord injury.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)497-514
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Rehabilitation Research and Development
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jun 2012


  • Exoskeleton
  • Functional electrical stimulation
  • Gait
  • Hybrid control
  • Muscle fatigue
  • Neuroprosthesis
  • Neurorobot
  • Orthosis
  • Rehabilitation
  • Robot control
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Wearable robot

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation


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