As you get older, many changes occur, especially physically, that can make life harder to enjoy. These physical changes can lead to walking slower, getting tired more easily during activities, and an overall reduction in strength. Our goal is to keep people mobile to allow them to fully enjoy their lives. To do that, we provide assistance using wearable robots called exoskeletons or exos (think Iron Man but only at the ankle or hip). Exoskeletons are like orthotic braces with motors to give you extra assistance.
There are multiple directions to look into how an exoskeleton can be studied. One way is to individualize the assistance to each user to try to improve outcomes like walking speed or energy usage during walking. To better understand how the exoskeletons influence walking, we can dive deeper, “under-the-skin” to the muscles and tendons. Both aging and wearing assistive devices change how much and how efficiently the muscles contract during walking. So the real questions we’re trying to answer are: Will these devices work for both younger and older people? Do muscle and tendon changes explain what exoskeleton assistance helps? We will share how we attempt to answer these questions and present what we have found so far at the talk!
Featured Speakers: Lindsey Trejo, Bioengineering PhD candidate at Georgia Tech and Benjamin Shafer, Robotics PhD candidate at Georgia Tech