Exergaming with a pediatric exoskeleton: Facilitating rehabilitation and research in children with cerebral palsy

IEEE Int Conf Rehabil Robot. 2017 Jul;2017:1087-1093. doi: 10.1109/ICORR.2017.8009394.


Effective rehabilitation of children with cerebral palsy (CP) requires intensive task-specific exercise but many in this population lack the motor capabilities to complete the desired training tasks. Providing robotic assistance is a potential solution yet the effects of this assistance are unclear. We combined a novel exoskeleton and exercise video game (exergame) to create a new rehabilitation paradigm for children with CP. We incorporated high density electroencephalography (EEG) to assess cortical activity. Movement to targets in the game was controlled by knee extension while standing. The distance between targets was the same with and without the exoskeleton to isolate the effect of robotic assistance. Our results show that children with CP maintain or increase knee extensor muscle activity during knee extension in the presence of synergistic robotic assistance. Our EEG findings also demonstrate that participants remained engaged in the exercise with robotic assistance. Interestingly we observed a developmental trajectory of sensorimotor mu rhythm in children with CP similar, though delayed, to those reported in typically developing children. While not the goal here, the exoskeleton significantly increased knee extension in 3/6 participants during use. Future work will focus on utilizing the exoskeleton to enhance volitional knee extension capability and in combination with EMG and EEG to study sensorimotor cortex response to progressive exercise in children with CP.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Brain / physiology
  • Cerebral Palsy / rehabilitation*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Electroencephalography / instrumentation
  • Electroencephalography / methods
  • Equipment Design
  • Exoskeleton Device*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Video Games*
  • Young Adult