Crouch gait is a common disorder in pediatric cerebral palsy (CP). Effective treatment of crouch during childhood is critical to maintain mobility into adulthood. Current interventions do not alleviate crouch gait long-term for most patients. This technology relates to a powered exoskeleton designed for gait assistance. The powered assistance may provide a physical therapy-type intervention to improve and maintain mobility.
Multiple factors contribute to crouch gait, including spasticity, contracture, muscle weakness and poor motor control. There are few effective interventions. Current treatments for crouch gait include invasive surgery, botulinum toxin injections, physical therapy/ strengthening, and orthotic bracing. Improvements are inconsistent. There is a need for new and effective interventions to preserve or augment mobility for pediatric crouch gait patients.
This robotic exoskeleton is specifically designed for treatment of crouch gait in pediatric CP patients. The wearable leg bracing system integrates robotics to provide on-demand motorized torque at the knee joint to facilitate knee extension. It contains on board sensors that track limb motion during walking and provide responsive knee extension assistance during distinct phases of the gait cycle. A customizable human-machine interface provides a personally tailored assistance strategy optimized for that individual. The assistance improves posture to make walking easier while also providing movement training to help strengthen and maintain neuromuscular function. The design is based on the architecture of a knee-ankle-foot orthosis. It is lightweight and modular. The exoskeleton assistive therapy provides the advantages of being non-invasive, individually specific and adaptable to changing needs. Early clinical results using this intervention are promising.