Assessment of Intuitiveness and Comfort of Wearable Haptic Feedback Strategies for Assisting Level and Stair Walking

Ilaria Cesini, Giacomo Spigler, Sahana Prasanna, Jessica D'Abbraccio, Daniela De Luca, Filippo Dell'Agnello, Simona Crea, Nicola Vitiello, Alberto Mazzoni, Calogero Maria Oddo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

Abstract

Nowadays, lower-limb prostheses are reaching real-world usability especially on ground-level walking. However, some key tasks such as stair walking are still quite demanding. Providing haptic feedback about the foot placement on the steps might reduce the cognitive load of the task, compensating for increased dependency on vision and lessen the risk of falling. Experiments on intact subjects can be useful to define the feedback strategies prior to clinical trials, but effective methods to assess the efficacy of the strategies are few and usually rely on the emulation of the disability condition. The present study reports on the design and testing of a wearable haptic feedback system in a protocol involving intact subjects to assess candidate strategies to be adopted in clinical trials. The system integrated a sensorized insole wirelessly connected to a textile waist belt equipped with three vibrating motors. Three stimulation strategies for mapping the insole pressure data to vibrotactile feedback were implemented and compared in terms of intuitiveness and comfort perceived during level and stair walking. The strategies were ranked using a relative rating approach, which highlighted the differences between them and suggested guidelines for their improvement. The feedback evaluation procedure proposed could facilitate the selection and improvement of haptic feedback strategies prior to clinical testing.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1676
Number of pages15
JournalElectronics
Volume9
Issue number10
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2020

Keywords

  • lower-limb amputees
  • vibrotactile belt
  • stimulation strategies
  • Elo rating
  • wearable robotics
  • assistive technologies
  • haptic feedback
  • LOWER-LIMB AMPUTEES
  • VIBROTACTILE FEEDBACK
  • GAIT SYMMETRY
  • ASYMMETRY
  • SYSTEM

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