A Novel Interactive Exoskeletal Robot for Overground Locomotion Studies in Rats


This paper introduces a newly developed apparatus, Iron Rat, for locomotion research in rodents. Its main purpose is to allow maximal freedom of voluntary overground movement of the animal while providing forceful interaction to the hindlimbs. Advantages and challenges of the proposed exoskeletal apparatus over other existing designs are discussed. Design and implementation challenges are presented and discussed, emphasizing their implications for free, voluntary movement of the animal. A live-animal experiment was conducted to assess the design. Unconstrained natural movement of the animal was compared with its movement with the exoskeletal module attached. The compact design and back-drivable implementation of this apparatus will allow novel experimental manipulations that may include forceful yet compliant dynamic interaction with the animal's overground locomotion.


Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering


This work was supported in part by the New York State Center of Research Excellence, contract CO19772, in part by the Eric P. and Evelyn E. Newman Fund, in part by the Gloria Blake Fund, and in part by the Samsung Scholarship.

Keywords and Phrases

Biped locomotion; Design; Iron research; Mammals; Animal experiments; Design and implementations; Dynamic interaction; Exoskeletal robots; Exoskeleton; Rodent; Spinal cord injuries (SCI); Voluntary movement; Animals; Biomechanics; Devices; Female; Hindlimb; Innervation; Locomotion; Physiology; Prosthesis design; Rats; Robotics; Spinal Cord Injuries; Sprague Dawley rat; Videorecording; Biomechanical Phenomena; Sprague-Dawley; Video Recording

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Document Type

Article - Journal

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© 2015 Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Jul 2015