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In this paper, we present the design and characterization of a novel ankle robot developed at the Massachusetts institute of technology (MIT). This robotic module is being tested with stroke patients at Baltimore Veterans administration medical center. The purpose of the on-going study is to train stroke survivors to overcome common foot drop and balance problems in order to improve their ambulatory performance. Its design follows the same guidelines of our upper extremity designs, i.e., it is a low friction, backdriveable device with intrinsically low mechanical impedance. Here, we report on the design and mechanical characteristics of the robot. We also present data to demonstrate the potential of this device as an efficient clinical measurement tool to estimate intrinsic ankle properties. Given the importance of the ankle during locomotion, an accurate estimate of ankle stiffness would be a valuable asset for locomotor rehabilitation. Our initial ankle stiffness estimates compare favorably with previously published work, indicating that our method may serve as an accurate clinical measurement tool.
Date of Publication: June 2009