Individuals with neurological impairments tend to lead a predominantly sedentary lifestyle due to impaired gait function and mobility. This may be detrimental to health by negatively impacting cardiorespiratory fitness and muscular strength, and increasing the risk of developing secondary health problems. Powered exoskeletons are assistive devices that may aid neurologically impaired individuals in achieving the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) physical activity (PA) guidelines for health. Increased PA should elicit a sufficient cardiorespiratory stimulus to provide health benefits to exoskeleton users. This study examined the cardiorespiratory demands of treadmill walking with and without the Ekso GT™ among able-bodied participants. The Ekso GT™ is a powered exoskeleton that enables individuals with neurological impairments to walk by supporting full body mass with motors attached at the hip and knee joints to generate steps. This feasibility study consisted of one group of healthy able-bodied individuals (n = 8). Participants completed two 12 min treadmill walking assessments, one with and one without the Ekso GT™ at the same fixed speed. Throughout each walking bout, various cardiorespiratory parameters, namely, volume of oxygen per kilogram (kg) of body mass (V˙O2·kg−1), volume of carbon dioxide per kg of body mass (V˙CO2·kg−1), respiratory exchange ratio (RER), ventilation (V˙E), heart rate (HR), and rate of perceived exertion (RPE), were recorded. Treadmill walking with Ekso GT™ elevated all recorded measurements to a significantly greater level (p ≤ 0.05) (except RER at 1 km·h−1; p = 0.230) than treadmill walking without the Ekso GT™ did at the same fixed speed. An increased cardiorespiratory response was recorded during treadmill walking with the exoskeleton. Exoskeleton walking may, therefore, be an effective method to increase PA levels and provide sufficient stimulus in accordance with the PA guidelines to promote cardiorespiratory fitness and subsequently enhance overall health.
|Number of pages||15|
|Journal||International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health|
|Early online date||19 May 2022|
|Publication status||Published online - 19 May 2022|
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Funding: This work was funded and supported by Atlantic Technological University Donegal, Letterkenny Campus throughout the PhD project of Damien Duddy.
© 2022 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.
- cardiorespiratory fitness
- neurological impairments
- physical activity
- oxygen consumption
- quality of life
- Feasibility Studies
- Walking - physiology
- Exoskeleton Device
- Exercise Test - methods