Purpose. To develop a robotic gait trainer that can be used in water (RGTW) and achieve repetitive physiological gait patterns to improve the movement dysfunctions. Method. The RGTW is a hip-knee-ankle-foot orthosis with pneumatic actuators; the control software was developed on the basis of the angular motions of the hip and knee joint of a healthy subject as he walked in water. Three-dimensional motions and electromyographic (EMG) activities were recorded in nine healthy subjects to evaluate the efficacy of using the RGTW while walking on a treadmill in water. Results. The device could preserve the angular displacement patterns of the hip and knee and foot trajectories under all experimental conditions. The tibialis anterior EMG activities in the late swing phase and the biceps femoris throughout the stance phase were reduced whose joint torques were assisted by the RGTW while walking on a treadmill in water. Conclusion. Using the RGTW could expect not only the effect of the hydrotherapy but also the standard treadmill gait training, in particular, and may be particularly effective for treating individuals with hip joint movement dysfunction.
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