EMG patterns during assisted walking in the exoskeleton

Francesca Sylos-Labini, Valentina La Scaleia, Andrea d'Avella, Iolanda Pisotta, Federica Tamburella, Giorgio Scivoletto, Marco Molinari, Shiqian Wang, Letian Wang, Edwin van Asseldonk, Herman van der Kooij, Thomas Hoellinger, Guy Cheron, Freygardur Thorsteinsson, Michel Ilzkovitz, Jeremi Gancet, Ralf Hauffe, Frank Zanov, Francesco Lacquaniti, Yuri P. Ivanenko

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Neuroprosthetic technology and robotic exoskeletons are being developed to facilitate stepping, reduce muscle efforts, and promote motor recovery. Nevertheless, the guidance forces of an exoskeleton may influence the sensory inputs, sensorimotor interactions and resulting muscle activity patterns during stepping. The aim of this study was to report the muscle activation patterns in a sample of intact and injured subjects while walking with a robotic exoskeleton and, in particular, to quantify the level of muscle activity during assisted gait. We recorded electromyographic (EMG) activity of different leg and arm muscles during overground walking in an exoskeleton in six healthy individuals and four spinal cord injury (SCI) participants. In SCI patients, EMG activity of the upper limb muscles was augmented while activation of leg muscles was typically small. Contrary to our expectations, however, in neurologically intact subjects, EMG activity of leg muscles was similar or even larger during exoskeleton-assisted walking compared to normal overground walking. In addition, significant variations in the EMG waveforms were found across different walking conditions. The most variable pattern was observed in the hamstring muscles. Overall, the results are consistent with a non-linear reorganization of the locomotor output when using the robotic stepping devices. The findings may contribute to our understanding of human-machine interactions and adaptation of locomotor activity patterns.

Original languageEnglish
Article number423
JournalFrontiers in Human Neuroscience
Issue numberJUNE
Publication statusPublished - Jun 16 2014


  • Assisted gait
  • EMG patterns
  • Neuroprosthetic technology
  • Robotic exoskeleton
  • Spinal cord injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Neurology
  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology


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