Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Mechanical Engineering–Engineering Mechanics (PhD)

College, School or Department Name

Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics


John E Beard


Research on rehabilitation showed that appropriate and repetitive mechanical movements can help spinal cord injured individuals to restore their functional standing and walking. The objective of this paper was to achieve appropriate and repetitive joint movements and approximately normal gait through the PGO by replicating normal walking, and to minimize the energy consumption for both patients and the device. A model based experimental investigative approach is presented in this dissertation.

First, a human model was created in Ideas and human walking was simulated in Adams. The main feature of this model was the foot ground contact model, which had distributed contact points along the foot and varied viscoelasticity. The model was validated by comparison of simulated results of normal walking and measured ones from the literature. It was used to simulate current PGO walking to investigate the real causes of poor function of the current PGO, even though it had joint movements close to normal walking. The direct cause was one leg moving at a time, which resulted in short step length and no clearance after toe off. It can not be solved by simply adding power on both hip joints.

In order to find a better answer, a PGO mechanism model was used to investigate different walking mechanisms by locking or releasing some joints. A trade-off between energy consumption, control complexity and standing position was found.

Finally a foot release PGO virtual model was created and simulated and only foot release mechanism was developed into a prototype. Both the release mechanism and the design of foot release were validated through the experiment by adding the foot release on the current PGO. This demonstrated an advancement in improving functional aspects of the current PGO even without a whole physical model of foot release PGO for comparison.