Vrije Universiteit Brussel


Assessment of Human-Robot Interaction

Until today, it is not entirely clear how humans interact with robotic devices during walking and how we can, based on that interaction, maximize the effectiveness of exoskeletons during gait rehabilitation. The goal of this project is to gain knowledge on the interaction between the (neuro)physiology and biomechanics of the human motor system and the hard- and software of gait rehabilitation devices. In a first study the emphasis lies on researching the safety and compliance of the KNEXO, a unilateral powered KNee EXOskeleton for the right knee powered by two Pleated Pneumatic Artificial MuscleS (PPAMs). We used this prototype to study the effects of compliant human-robot interaction on kinematics and muscle activity during gait in healthy subjects and in a subject with multiple sclerosis (MS). A second study focuses on new methods to measure the neurophysiological aspects, i.e. cortical activity, of treadmill walking in order to use these new techniques to study the cortical aspects of motor adaptation to robot-assisted treadmill walking. The third study integrates the knowledge gathered in the first two studies and looks at kinematics, muscle and cortical correlates of motor adaptation during robot-assisted treadmill walking with KNEXO. More specifically, motor adaptation to different parameter settings of the robotic control system has been investigated. The fourth study further integrates the previous studies by researching the kinematics and cortical correlates of robot-assisted treadmill walking in healthy subjects in a complete automated lower limb orthosis.

  • Safety and compliance with the KNEXO prototype.

  • New methods for neurophysiological measurements.




  • Kinematics and cortical correlates of robot-assisted treadmill walking with the KNEXO system.




  • Kinematics and cortical correlates of robot-assisted treadmill walking with the Lokomat system.



  • Publications

    International Journal Articles

    • Low-back problems in recreational self-contained underwater breathing apparatus divers: prevelance and specific risk factors., Edition:IN: Contemporary Sport, Leisure and Ergonomics., , Issue: chapter 2, pp: 17 - 38, eds: Reilly & Atkinson, published by: Routledge, ISBN-ISSN: 978-0-415-47272-2, 2009, Kristel Knaepen, Elke Cumps, Romain Meeusen, Evert Zinzen
    • Safe and compliant guidance by a powered knee exoskeleton for robot-assisted rehabilitation of gait, Edition:Advanced Robotics, Special Issue on Physical Human-Robot Interaction Through Force Interfaces, Issue: 5, Volume: 25, N° in volume: , pp: 513 - 535, eds: RSJ, published by: Brill (Leiden, NL), ISBN-ISSN: 0169-1864, 2011, Pieter Beyl, Kristel Knaepen, Saartje Duerinck, Michael Van Damme, Bram Vanderborght, Romain Meeusen, Dirk Lefeber Impact factor: 0.629, impact year: 2009
    • Does a period of detraining cause a decrease in serum brain-derived neurotrophic factor ?, Edition:Neuroscience Letters, , Issue: 486, Volume: 3, pp: 146 - 149, eds: , published by: , ISBN-ISSN: 0304-3940, 2010, Maaike Goekint, Bart Roelands, Kevin De Pauw, Kristel Knaepen, Inge Bos, Romain Meeusen Impact factor: 1.925, impact year: 2009
    • Neuroplasticity: the effect of acute and training on peripheral brain-derived neurotrophic factor; a systematic review of experimental studies in human subjects, Edition:Sports Med, , Issue: 40, Volume: 9, pp: 765 - 801, eds: , published by: , ISBN-ISSN: 0112-1642, 2010, Kristel Knaepen, Maaike Goekint, Elsa Heyman, Romain Meeusen Impact factor: 3.018, impact year: 2009
    • Low-back problems in recreational self-contained underwater breathing apparatus divers: prevalence and specific risk factors., Edition:Ergonomics, , Issue: 4, Volume: 52, N° in volume: , pp: 461 - 473, eds: , published by: Taylor and Francis Ltd, ISBN-ISSN: 0014-0139, 2009, Kristel Knaepen, Elke Cumps, Evert Zinzen, Romain Meeusen Impact factor: 1.484, impact year: 2007

    International Congress Papers

    • Body Mass Index as a Parameter in a Motor Adaptation Process, Edition: Converging Clinical and Engineering Research on Neurorehabilitation Biosystems & Biorobotics, 2013, Volume: 1, pp: 289 - 293, published by: Springer Berlin Heidelberg, ISBN-ISSN: 978-3-642-34546-3, 2013, Svetlana Grosu, Kristel Knaepen, Eva De Becker, Michael Van Damme, Bram Vanderborght, Dirk Lefeber
    • Brain-derived neurotrophic factor and exercise, an update, Edition:book of Abstracts of the 17th Annual Congress ECSS, Brugge, Belgium, pp: 66 - 67, , 2012, Kristel Knaepen, Maaike Goekint, Romain Meeusen
    • Effect of task duration on sustained attention, an electrophysiological study, Edition:book of Abstracts of the 17th Annual Congress ECSS, Brugge, Belgium, Beginpage: 117, , 2012, Vinciane Fontenelle, Kristel Knaepen, Helio Fernandez Tellez, Nathalie Pattyn, Guy Nagels, Romain Meeusen
    • Effects of cognitive fatigue on attention, a P300 ERP study., Edition:Proceedings 16th annual meeting Soc Kinesiology Belgium,, Beginpage: 37, , 2011, Vinciane Fontenelle, Kristel Knaepen, Helio Fernandez Tellez, Nathalie Pattyn, Guy Nagels, Romain Meeusen
    • Is exercise good for the brain?, Edition:Proceedings Third Conference of the International Association of Neurorestoratology, Beginpage: 53, eds: Huang & Raisman (eds), , 2010, Romain Meeusen, Maaike Goekint, Kristel Knaepen, Vinciane Fontenelle, Bart Roelands
    • Peripheral BDNF - what do we learn from this?, Edition:Abstractbook 15th Annual Congess of the European College of Sport Science, Antalya, Turkey, , 2010, Romain Meeusen, Maaike Goekint, Inge Bos, Kristel Knaepen, Vinciane Fontenelle, Bart Roelands
    • Effectiveness of robot-assisted gait rehabilitation in spinal cord injury (SCI) patients: a critical appraisal of the literature, Proceedings of the 4th International State-of-the-art Congress 'Rehabilitation: Mobility, Exercise & Sports', , 2009, Eva Swinnen, Eric Kerckhofs, Kristel Knaepen, Saartje Duerinck, Peter Vaes, Pierre Van Roy, Jean-pierre Baeyens, Nicole Pouliart, Pieter Beyl, Pierre Cherelle, Patrick Kool, Dirk Lefeber, Romain Meeusen
    • A proof-of-concept exoskeleton for robot-assisted rehabilitation of gait, Edition:4th European Conference of the International Federation for Medical and Biological Engineering 23 - 27 November 2008, Antwerp, Belgium, Proceedings of the 4th European Conference of the International Federation for Medical and Biological Engineering (IFMBE Proceedings 22), pp: 1825 - 1829, eds: Vander Sloten, J.; Verdonck, P.; Nyssen, M.; Haueisen, J., ISBN-ISSN: 978-3-540-89207-6, 2008, Pieter Beyl, Pierre Cherelle, Kristel Knaepen, Dirk Lefeber

    International Abstracts and Short Communications

    • Motor adaptation studies with altered gait pattern implementation, Edition:The 5th International Workshop on Human-Friendly Robotics, , 2012, Svetlana Grosu, Kristel Knaepen, Eva De Becker, Michael Van Damme, Bram Vanderborght, Romain Meeusen, Dirk Lefeber
    • The impact of an actuated ankle on the walking performance following neurologic injuries: a systematic review, Book of abstracts of the 4th International State-of-the-art Congress 'Rehabilitation: Mobility, Exercise & Sports', , 2009, Saartje Duerinck, Pierre Van Roy, Peter Vaes, Kristel Knaepen, Eva Swinnen, Eric Kerckhofs, Nicole Pouliart, Pieter Beyl, Pierre Cherelle, Patrick Kool, Dirk Lefeber, Romain Meeusen
    • Low-Back Problems in Tennis, Volleyball and Scuba Diving: Prevalence and Specific Risk Factors, Edition:Abstracts 16th European Congres of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine 3-6 June 2008 Brugge, Belgium, Journal of Rehabilitation Medicine, Issue: Suppl., Volume: 47, pp: 110 - 110, eds: Gunnar-Grimby, Goteborg, Sweden, published by: Foundation of Rehabilitation Information, ISBN-ISSN: 1650-1969, 2008, Kristel Knaepen, Elke Cumps, Katrien Billen, Elke Sommerijns, Mysak Wolfs, Romain Meeusen Impact factor: 2.168, impact year: 2006
    • Low-Back problems in recreational self-contained underwater breathing apparatus divers: prevalence and specific risk factors., Edition:Journal of Sport Science, Issue: 27, pp: S19 - S20, published by: TAYLOR & FRANCIS LTD, ISBN-ISSN: 0264-0414, 2009, Kristel Knaepen, Elke Cumps, Evert Zinzen, Romain Meeusen Impact factor: 1.619, impact year: 2009

    National Abstracts

    • ALTACRO - Automated Locomotor Training using an Actuated Compliant Robotic Orthosis, Edition: IVde Dag van de Doctorandi LK-VUB, Brussel, Belgie, , 2008, Kristel Knaepen
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