Soft exosuits may someday be able to do what rigid exoskeletons can’t – unobtrusively help people walk when they need a boost

Soft robotic suit gently guides stroke patients' stride

IT’S enough to put a spring in your step. A soft robotic suit has helped three people recovering from a stroke to walk better.

The suit, developed by a team led by Conor Walsh at Harvard’s Wyss Institute, is made of flexible fabric that attaches to the waist, thigh, calf and shoe. Cables fastened to the outside of the suit can contract in the same directions as muscles, helping to move the legs.

The three people who tested the suit – one woman and two men, aged 29, 60, and 63 – could already walk, albeit with artefacts from their stroke. Using the suit, they took 11% less time between steps and walked more symmetrically. Its support could prevent injuries that arise from compensating for a weaker leg, and help people recovering from a stroke to do more of their rehabilitation at home or while out and about, rather than …

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