In this study, we present and evaluate a novel method to estimate multi-joint leg impedance, using a robotic gait training device. The method is based on multi-input-multi-output system identification techniques and is designed for continuous torque perturbations at the hip and knee joint simultaneously. Eight elderly subjects (age 67-82) performed relax and position tasks in three different leg orientations. Multi-joint impedance was estimated nonparametrically and was subsequently modeled in terms of inertia and (inter)joint stiffness and damping. The results indicate that all stiffness and damping parameters were significantly higher during the position task compared to the relax task. The majority of the stiffness and damping parameters were not significantly affected by leg orientation. The results also emphasize the importance of considering the visco-elastic coupling between joints when modeling multi-joint dynamics. Measuring joint stiffness with the same device that is used for robotic gait training allows convenient testing of joint properties in conjunction with the robotic gait training protocol. These measures might serve as a good basis for quantitative assessment and follow up of patients with abnormal joint stiffness due to neurological disorders, and may reveal how changes in these joint properties affect their gait function.
- Joint impedance
- joint stiffness
- multi-input-multi-output (MIMO) system identification
- multi-joint impedance
- robotic gait trainer