Recent trends in assistive technology for mobility

Rachel E. Cowan, Benjamin J. Fregly, Michael L. Boninger, Leighton Chan, Mary M. Rodgers, David J. Reinkensmeyer

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

102 Scopus citations


Loss of physical mobility makes maximal participation in desired activities more difficult and in the worst case fully prevents participation. This paper surveys recent work in assistive technology to improve mobility for persons with a disability, drawing on examples observed during a tour of academic and industrial research sites in Europe. The underlying theme of this recent work is a more seamless integration of the capabilities of the user and the assistive technology. This improved integration spans diverse technologies, including powered wheelchairs, prosthetic limbs, functional electrical stimulation, and wearable exoskeletons. Improved integration is being accomplished in three ways: 1) improving the assistive technology mechanics; 2) improving the user-technology physical interface; and 3) sharing of control between the user and the technology. We provide an overview of these improvements in user-technology integration and discuss whether such improvements have the potential to be transformative for people with mobility impairments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number20
JournalJournal of neuroengineering and rehabilitation
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2012


  • Assistive technology
  • Disability
  • Robotics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation
  • Health Informatics


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