Date of this Version
Dempsey, C. (2019). Development of a Novel Weight-Offloading System for Gait Rehabilitation. Undergraduate Honors Thesis. University of Nebraska - Lincoln. Lincoln, Nebraska.
Gait therapy is a key process for rehabilitating individuals suffering from mobility impairment. Gait therapy involves repetitive training exercises to rebuild motor function of lower limbs in patients with brain or spinal cord injury. With stroke being the leading cause of mobility disability in the United States, innovative gait training solutions are in great demand. This project introduces a novel rehabilitation device for gait and balance therapy that aims to provide an efficient, and cost-effective, solution. Current rehabilitation programs often rely on methods and devices that are costly, inconsistent, and inefficient. Motor function must be relearned through repetitive training exercises; therefore, reliable approaches to gait therapy are required for successful patient recovery. The device described in this paper utilizes an overhead cable system, governed by a mechanical function generator, to provide uniform body weight support (BWS) throughout a workspace. An investigation into optimal mechanisms to provide this weight-offloading function is also explored. A prototype of the cable system has been designed and constructed while the counterweight system is analyzed through computer modeling. The results and implications of prototyping and modeling will then be discussed.