For years, we've been wondering what implications Honda's Asimo robot could have in the real world, and now we're starting to get a sense of that. Honda announced that it will begin its first US clinical studies of the Walking Assist Device at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago in an effort to provided improved mobility for people who have suffered a stroke. While the automotive tie-in here is pretty weak, this is the first time we've heard about this device since it was unveiled back in 2008.

Weighing in at six pounds, Honda's device is fitted to the waist and legs of patients to make it easier to walk, and the 22.2-volt lithium-ion battery provides enough electricity for more than an hour of operation. According to Honda's press release, which is posted below, up to 80 percent of the almost 800,000 stroke victims each year (in the US alone) are afflicted with limited mobility, so a medical aid like this could have a big impact in the real world.
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U.S. Research Begins on Honda Walking Assist Device

TORRANCE, Calif., U.S.A., November 12, 2013 - Honda announced today that a clinical research study of its Walking Assist Device has begun at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC).

Walk Assist Devicezoom
Walk Assist Device
Side View Of Walk Assist Devicezoom
Side View Of Walk Assist Device
At RIC, physical therapists and researchers will perform a scientific assessment of the ability of the Honda Walking Assist Device or Stride Management Assist (SMA) to improve the mobility of patients who have experienced a stroke. This will serve as the first large scale clinical research study on the Honda Walking Assist Device to take place in the U.S.

The Honda Walking Assist Device is worn outside of clothing and consists of a stylish frame and battery-powered compact motors designed to assist people with reduced walking ability due to injury, illness or other causes. The device was developed by Honda R&D Co., Ltd.

"We are excited about bringing the Honda Walking Assist Device to the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago for research with the hope of helping adults in America recover from stroke and improve over-ground mobility," said Ryan Harty, manager of the Environmental Business Development Office of American Honda Motor Co., Inc. "As a mobility company, Honda envisions a society where all people can experience the joy and freedom of personal mobility."

Stroke is the leading cause of the adult-onset of disability, affecting about 795,000 people in the U.S. each year*1,*2. A large proportion of these stroke survivors (up to 80%) experience considerable problems with walking, including reduced walking speeds and asymmetrical walking patterns, limiting their ability to walk.*3

"The goal of post-stroke rehabilitation is to reintegrate individuals back to their highest level of function for employment, social and community participation. The return of mobility and walking is a crucial part of this return to function," said Arun Jayaraman, PT PhD, of the Department of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation and Physical Therapy, Northwestern University and the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, and Principal Investigator in the clinical research study.

Honda began research and development of the Walking Assist Device in 1999. As with ASIMO, Honda's humanoid robot, the Walking Assist Device adopts cooperative control technology*4 that was developed based on Honda's cumulative study of human walking. The control computer activates motors based on information obtained from hip angle sensors while walking to improve the symmetry of the timing of each leg lifting from the ground and extending forward and backward, and to promote a longer stride for easier walking. The compact design of the device was achieved through the adoption of thin motors and a control system developed by Honda, as well as a simple design with adjustable belts that enables the device to be worn by people of varied body size.

"We are committed to leveraging our research into humanoid robotics to improve people's lives," said Harty.

From the early stages of the research and development of the Walking Assist Device, Honda has worked with research institutions and other organizations in Japan. Through this process, Honda has received encouraging feedback from patients who underwent walking training, physical therapists, medical doctors, and researchers, all of whom acknowledge certain effectiveness and compatibility of the device in the rehabilitation process.


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  • 47 Comments
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          2 wheeled menace
          • 1 Year Ago
          Lol, i kinda agree with you. Their cars are very mediocre today compared to the past. At least they are regaining their footing with styling, but their powertrains are stuck in the mid 2000's still.
        Jim R
        • 1 Year Ago
        Honda isn't a car company that makes lawnmowers. They're an engineering firm that happens to make cars.
          Naturenut99
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Jim R
          Actually they do also make mowers. At least they used to. My dad had one.
          Naturenut99
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Jim R
          And just checked, they still do make lawnmowers. Now if only they made an affordable (within reason anyway) electric riding mower.
        Brent Jatko
        • 1 Year Ago
        As the other commenters have observed, Honda is about way more than cars.
        Seal Rchin
        • 1 Year Ago
        Wasn't Direct TV started by GM early on? Were you asking the same questions back then?
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Seal Rchin
          [blocked]
          Naturenut99
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Seal Rchin
          Yo... Splitting hairs are you ?
      • 1 Year Ago
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      Jerry
      • 1 Year Ago
      My grandpa could use this. He is a stroke survivor, but has very limited leg mobility. Wish they were trying this out in SE Michigan also.
      Spec
      • 1 Year Ago
      Is it April Fool's already?
        Daniel D
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Spec
        No you are a little early. Have your friend tell you when its time for you to pop up again.
      JB
      • 1 Year Ago
      IMHO, if it does not support the ankle and the knee it does not have a lot of utility of getting the disabled out of chairs. There are other devices that are being developed to support the whole leg.
      • 1 Year Ago
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      Teleny411
      • 1 Year Ago
      Too bad this wasn't around in FDR's day. He really struggled trying to walk at public events.
      Karl_T
      • 1 Year Ago
      Boy, going to be quite the uproar when the first instance of unintended acceleration is reported....
        NissanGTR
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Karl_T
        thats toyota moron
          RoyEMunson
          • 1 Year Ago
          @NissanGTR
          Right, because there is some kinda rule that "unintended acceleration" references can only be made about Toyota products... It was a joke, and certainly not the worst one I have seen on AB.
      Major Lee Gassole
      • 1 Year Ago
      So you strap this on and literally have your panties in a WAD? I can see the commercials, "My life changed ever since I got my panties in a WAD!"
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Major Lee Gassole
        [blocked]
      poopoohead100
      • 1 Year Ago
      VTEC JUST KICKED IN YO
        onlycodered
        • 1 Year Ago
        @poopoohead100
        I don't know why people are downvoting you? This is hilarious!
      jasonwarreny
      • 1 Year Ago
      Honda must think people will swallow any stupidity on the Internet (and they often do). Stroke syndromes affect the entire leg not just the thigh muscles. That means if a device selectively moves the thigh muscles it won't help any, because one's foot and one's calf muscles are also paralyzed. The nerves which innervate the thigh muscles (i.e. quadriceps and hamstrings) are found above the nerves which innervate the calf and foot muscles. That means when the nerves or pathways which innervate the thigh muscles are affected, the nerves which inneravte the foot and calves are also paralyzed.
      jasonwarreny
      • 1 Year Ago
      This is super stupid. Stroke affects half of the body. That means the entire left leg or the entire right leg is paralyzed. This device moves the thighs. It's not going to help anybody if their entire left leg is paralyzed, and can't use their calf muscles or foot. I can't think of ANY stroke syndrome which would selectively only affect the thigh muscles. Because the nerves which supply the thigh muscles have their origin above the nerves which supply the calf and foot muscles, that means if the nerves which innervate the thigh muscles are affected, the calf and foot muscles are also paralyzed.
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