What Do Older Adults and Clinicians Think About Traditional Mobility Aids and Exoskeleton Technology?

Merel M. Jung*, G.D.S. Ludden

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Mobility impairments can prevent older adults from performing their daily activities, which highly impacts quality of life. Powered exoskeletons, which are wearable robotic devices, can assist older adults by providing additional support to compensate for age-related decline in muscle strength. To date, little is known about the opinions and needs of older adults regarding exoskeletons, as current research primarily focuses on the technical development of exoskeleton devices and on groups with more severe mobility impairments such as people with spinal cord injuries. Therefore, the aim of this article is to inform the design of exoskeletons for older adults from a person-centered perspective. Interviews were conducted with seven older adults and six clinicians. Results indicated that exoskeletons can be a valuable addition to existing mobility devices to support older adults during walking and other actions necessary to perform their daily activities. Although reactions towards the concept of exoskeleton technology were positive, older adults did not currently perceive the need for an exoskeleton device. Exoskeletons for older adults should be easy to use; preferably, users should be able to put the device on and take it off independently. Moreover, the appearance of the exoskeleton should be as inconspicuous as possible, as most older adults do not like to advertise their need for assistive devices. At this point in time, the willingness to use exoskeleton technology will depend on personal needs and preferences.
Original languageEnglish
Article number10
Number of pages17
JournalACM Transactions on Human-Robot Interaction
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2019


  • Older adults
  • mobility
  • user perspective
  • exoskeleton
  • assistive technology


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