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In recent years, gait robots have become increasingly common for gait rehabilitation in non-ambulatory stroke patients. Cardiovascular treadmill training, which has been shown to provide great benefit to stroke survivors, cannot be performed with non-ambulatory patients. We therefore integrated cardiovascular training in robot-assisted gait therapy to combine the benefits of both training modi. We developed a model of human heart rate as a function of exercise parameters during robot-assisted gait training and applied it for automatic control purposes. This structural model of the physiological processes describes the change in heart rate caused by treadmill speed and the power exchanged between robot and subject. We performed physiological parameter estimation for each tested individual and designed a model-based feedback controller to guide heart rate to a desired time profile. Five healthy subjects and eight stroke patients were recorded for model parameter identification, which was successfully used for heart rate control of three healthy subjects. We showed that a model-based control approach can take into account patient-specific limitations of treadmill speed as well as individual power expenditure.
Date of Conference: 9-13 May 2011