The project is basicly an exoskeleton that can be worn by patients for the purpose of aiding walking and for faster recovery after accidents.
We have designed the cheap exoskeleton for patients who could not use their legs after an accident, as their recovery time is very large, and can extend upto quite a few years. Even when they are allowed to use their legs, it takes a long time for them to be able to control their muscles properly again. There are even those people who can’t walk due to certain circumstances like a deformity at birth.
These patients are required to pay large sums of money for their treatment and also for physiotherapy. We believe that this project will help those patients to live a normal, independent life.
The solution we came up with was to either aid the patient in moving his leg by supporting him, or to completely move his leg for him. This was done by using pneumatic pistons.
Currently the solenoids switch using an Arduino Uno board, in a loop. The valves are switch in such a way as to recreate the motion of walking. Later on, the loop execution will be replaced by sensors which will detect small muscle movements or twitches of the muscles in his leg, and correspondingly switch the valves. This will allow the patient to completely control his/her movements while wearing the exoskeleton.
The basic body of the project is made out of wood and aluminium so as to keep it light weight for the user.
The pneumatic pistons are mounted in perfect positions so as to recreate the motions of the knee and the hip joints and such that, they don’t obstruct normal motion of the leg. The solenoid valves are mounted on the pistons and control the flow of compressed air in it.
All the valves are connected to the Arduino board at the back of the mechanism.
The Arduino controls the valves by using 5V to switch, giving 12V supply to valves by using 2 motor driver L293D IC’s.
The power switch is extended and given to hand of the user so that he can control the movements of the mechanism. The Arduino is coded to create a continuous loop execution of the ‘steps’ in walking. This is done by replicating the motions of the knee and hip joints as mentioned above. The whole process of loop execution will be replaced by sensors for Electromyography.
The user shifts his weight by making use of hand crutches, while the pistons move the legs. We created the frame to be sturdy to withstand falls and improper placing. The Arduino code is highly simplified with comments, so that the user can make changes if he/she feels the need to do so. For example if the user feels the need to change the delay or to make the movements faster, it can be done through a few changes in the code.