Journal Papers
Design of Shoes Utilizing Torsion Spring for Increasing Gait Efficiency and Application in Wearable Robot
Year of publication
E. Song, D. Lee, K. Kong
Journal of Institute of Control, Robotics and Systems


The dynamics arising from the foot–ground interaction plays an important role in human gait. Thus, it is imperative to fabricate an appropriate foot module for a powered exoskeleton to improve its performance. In this paper, a new design for shoes that effectively utilize the forefoot dynamics is described. This new design has metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joints with embedded torsion springs that connect the forefoot with the rest of the foot. Prototypes of these shoes resembling common sandals were produced via 3D printing. Torsion springs can store energy until the occurrence of toe-off in the gait cycle and then release energy till the termination of toe-off, which makes walking possible with less power consumption. The proper use of this toe-off force can lead to a more natural and effective gait for the wearers of powered exoskeletons. The ground reaction forces were measured to analyze if the new design could indeed increase the toe-off force. Surface electromyography (sEMG) sensors were used to measure the muscle activity to compare the relative muscle fatigue for the cases with and without the newly proposed design. Experimental results showed that the springs in MTP joints reduced the muscle fatigue by 4% and they enabled an increase in the supporting force by 10% when walking on a flat ground. Experiments conducted for running and climbing stairs showed a nearly 30% increase in the supporting force and a 30% decrease in muscle fatigue, indicating a significant improvement. The forefeet or MTP joints were more actively engaged during running or climbing stairs and the spring had enough chance to play its role. Furtherr research should focus on the verification of the design by incorporating it into wearable robot. 

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