For active AFO applications, pneumatic remote transmission has advantages in minimizing the mass and complexity of the system due to the flexibility in placing pneumatic components and providing high back-drivability via simple valve control. However, pneumatic systems are generally tethered to large stationary air compressors, which greatly limit the practical daily usage. In this study, we implemented a wearable custom compressor that can be worn at the trunk of the body and can generate up to 1050 kPa of pressurized air to power an unilateral active AFO for dorsiflexion (DF) assistance of drop-foot patients. In order to minimize the size and weight of the custom compressor, the compression rate of the custom compressor was optimized to the rate of consumption required to power the active AFO. The finalized system can provide a maximum assistive torque of 9.8 Nm at a functional frequency of 1 Hz and the average resistive torque during free movement was 0.03 Nm. The system was tested for five hemiplegic drop-foot patients. The proposed system showed an average improvement of 12.3° of ankle peak dorsiflexion angle during the mid to late swing phase.
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