Gastrocnemius myoelectric control of a robotic hip exoskeleton can reduce the user's lower-limb muscle activities at push off

Lorenzo Grazi, Simona Crea, Andrea Parri, Raffaele Molino Lova, Silvestro Micera, Nicola Vitiello

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We present a novel assistive control strategy for a robotic hip exoskeleton for assisting hip flexion/extension, based on a proportional Electromyography (EMG) strategy. The novelty of the proposed controller relies on the use of the Gastrocnemius Medialis (GM) EMG signal instead of a hip flexor muscle, to control the hip flexion torque. This strategy has two main advantages: first, avoiding the placement of the EMG electrodes at the human-robot interface can reduce discomfort issues for the user and motion artifacts of the recorded signals; second, using a powerful signal for control, such as the GM, could improve the reliability of the control system. The control strategy has been tested on eight healthy subjects, walking with the robotic hip exoskeleton on the treadmill. We evaluated the controller performance and the effect of the assistance on muscle activities. The tuning of the assistance timing in the controller was subject dependent and varied across subjects. Two muscles could benefit more from the assistive strategy, namely the Rectus Femoris (directly assisted) and the Tibialis Anterior (indirectly assisted). A significant correlation was found between the timing of the delivered assistance (i.e., synchronism with the biological hip torque), and reduction of the hip flexors muscular activity during walking; instead, no significant correlations were found for peak torque and peak power. Results suggest that the timing of the assistance is the most significant parameter influencing the effectiveness of the control strategy. The findings of this work could be important for future studies aimed at developing assistive strategies for walking assistance exoskeletons.

Original languageEnglish
Article number71
JournalFrontiers in Neuroscience
Issue numberFEB
Publication statusPublished - Feb 14 2018


  • EMG control
  • Exoskeleton
  • Gait
  • Hip orthosis
  • Walking assistance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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