Skywalker - Gait Rehabilitation Robot

The Skywalker system being used in a pilot study.


As an undergraduate researcher in the MIT Laboratory for Biomechanics and Human Rehabilitation, I assisted in the progression of the Skywalker project. The MIT Skywalker Project is a two-tracked, robotic system that aims to provide gait therapy by allowing for self-directed movement rather than imposing the kinematics of gait like existing robotic systems. Because research has found that neural input and stimulation result in more effective therapy programs, the system is meant to explore a new, more effective of method of gait rehabilitation. The system features two treadmills, each capable of being varied in speed as well as angle with respect to the ground independently.

My main responsibility was in designing and building an experimental body-weight support system. The system is capable of securely providing body weight support in a manner that is more conducive to developing a natural gait. It does this by providing the body weight support at the pelvis, accommodating the degrees of freedom that exist there during gait, and returning data about the amount of weight being supported. The body-weight system was successfully implemented and the Skywalker Project is undergoing pilot studies that show very promising results.