Soft exoskeletons are lightweight robotic devices currently used for physical therapy and rehabilitation. Most of the current research on soft exoskeletons has focused on the adult population, providing limited options for infant physical therapy and rehabilitation. Spina bifida, a condition affecting the infant’s brain and spinal cord, requires muscle movement treatment through physical therapy. Coupling physiological infant movement with soft robotics can provide solutions for rehabilitation and physical therapy. This study couples joint kinematics from a novel musculoskeletal model with a soft-robotic exoskeleton that uses vacuum-powered artificial muscles. The accuracy of the exoskeleton is assessed when replicating physiological infant kicks. Knee joint kinematics from the musculoskeletal model during infant movement were used to drive the soft exoskeleton. Preliminary results showed that the robotic system replicated infant kicks with lower frequency and small ranges of motion (RMS < 2 degrees) more accurately than those with higher frequency and large ranges of motion (RMS > 6 degrees). The proposed framework has the potential to replicate physiological infant kicks that could be used for infant physical therapy and rehabilitation.
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