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Walker-assisted gait in rehabilitation: a study of biomechanics and instrumentation

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3 Author(s)
R. A. Bachschmidt ; Dept. of Biomed. Eng., Marquette Univ., Milwaukee, WI, USA ; G. F. Harris ; G. G. Simoneau

While walkers are commonly prescribed to improve patient stability and ambulatory ability, quantitative study of the biomechanical and functional requirements for effective walker use is limited. To date no one has addressed the changes in upper extremity kinetics that occur with the use of a standard walker, which was the objective of this study. A strain gauge-based walker instrumentation system was developed for the six degree-of-freedom measurement of resultant subject hand loads. The walker dynamometer was integrated with an upper extremity biomechanical model. Preliminary system data were collected for seven healthy, right-handed young adults following informed consent. Bilateral upper extremity kinematic data were acquired with a six camera Vicon motion analysis system using a Micro-VAX workstation. Internal joint moments at the wrist, elbow, and shoulder were determined in the three clinical planes using the inverse dynamics method. The walker dynamometer system allowed characterization of upper extremity loading demands. Significantly differing upper extremity loading patterns were Identified for three walker usage methods. Complete description of upper extremity kinetics and kinematics during walker-assisted gait may provide insight into walker design parameters and rehabilitative strategies.

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IEEE Transactions on Neural Systems and Rehabilitation Engineering  (Volume:9 ,  Issue: 1 )