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Recent trends in assistive technology for mobility

  • Author(s): Cowan, Rachel E
  • Fregly, Benjamin J
  • Boninger, Michael L
  • Chan, Leighton
  • Rodgers, Mary M
  • Reinkensmeyer, David J
  • et al.
Abstract

Abstract Loss of physical mobility makes maximal participation in desired activities more difficult and in the worst case fully prevents participation. This paper surveys recent work in assistive technology to improve mobility for persons with a disability, drawing on examples observed during a tour of academic and industrial research sites in Europe. The underlying theme of this recent work is a more seamless integration of the capabilities of the user and the assistive technology. This improved integration spans diverse technologies, including powered wheelchairs, prosthetic limbs, functional electrical stimulation, and wearable exoskeletons. Improved integration is being accomplished in three ways: 1) improving the assistive technology mechanics; 2) improving the user-technology physical interface; and 3) sharing of control between the user and the technology. We provide an overview of these improvements in user-technology integration and discuss whether such improvements have the potential to be transformative for people with mobility impairments.

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