Young Researcher Creates an Exoskeleton to Restore the Function of Walking

What do you think, can one person simultaneously work on computational machines and physiology? An example of this is young researcher Aleksey Petrov, who is simultaneously a professor of the Department of Electronic Computing Machines of the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and postgraduate student of the Institute of Sport, Tourism, and Service at SUSU.

After receiving his master's degree from the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Aleksey began to offer the course Microprocessor Systems at the ECM department and also enrolled in postgraduate studies at the Institute of Sport, Tourism, and Service at SUSU to develop an unusual device – an exoskeleton. This is a mechatronic device for the rehabilitation of patients with damage to their lower limbs. Aleksey Petrov explains his choice :

“Up to some point, physiology was just a hobby for me. When I was still studying in the master's program, I had thoughts come to me many times about creating various exoskeletons. So, this hobby become real research and an area of development for my master's thesis, and now already for my candidate dissertation. At this time, every area of science needs development. This is the only way to achieve personal and technical progress.”

In the beginning, the young researcher had to spend a lot of time learning anatomy and physiology from scratch and master biological sciences. Aleksey Petrov's scientific adviser, Doctor of Biological Sciences, director of ISTS, Vadim Erlich, and the scientific consultant for his work, candidate of biological sciences, Vitaliy Epishev, help the young researcher in the development of his exoskeleton.

The main differing factor for Aleksey's developments from existing exoskeleton projects is that his device is built for rehabilitating a fairly large number of people. Statistics show that more than 60% of the population have injuries or illnesses in the lower extremities to varying degrees.

“At a young age, people can run into such illnesses as osteoarthrosis,” says Aleksey Petrov.

As Aleksey Aleksandrovich explains, international products of this category are used to restore work to just one joint. In Aleksey's device, 3 joints of the lower extremities are put to work, at the same time restoring the ability to walk.

“The main thing that people should receive after rehabilitation in our device is learning to walk again in very short periods of time,” says the developer of the exoskeleton.

Aleksey Petrov told us that when creating his exoskeleton, he first thought about children with the serious illness – childrens' cerebral palsy:

“Our development will help such children walk. In my opinion, society has achieved the level of development where all of the biological inequalities that people have can be leveled with technical means. I want to help myself feel valuable and needed by society,” said Aleksey Aleksandrovich, sharing his opinion.

The young researcher already has a number of publications on this topic in international research journals indexed in the Scopus and Web of Science databases. In these articles, he speaks about how the development can be used by skiiers to form an ideal stride.

There is much work being done around the world on the creation of an exoskeleton, but in Russia, unfortunately, these developments do not yet have wide application. As Aleksey says, they are located in their infancy, but much has been done already. At this time, Aleksey has developed a device and prepared a model of it.

Last year, Aleksey Petrov won the contest Scientific Prospects, which was held at SUSU within the 5-100 Project. He received a grant to develop a prototype with which the device will be tested. After this, the exoskeleton will be ready for manufacture.

Yulia Uzmova, photo by Oleg Igoshin
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