Honda, more widely known for bringing transport mobility, has actually been swimming the water of motorized walking assistance for over 10 years. The latest two products went to market are Stride Management Assist (SMA) and Bodyweight Support Assist(BSA), both created to assist elderly or otherwise mobility-challenged people to walk and enhance their mobility on their own exertion and will.
Stride Management Assist（SMA) device has a simpler setup than Bodyweight Support Assist. Weighing at 6 lbs, SMA is designed for people with weakened muscles after injury but still could walk on his own to restore normal mobility at greater speed and greater distance with ease. SMA assist the swinging forward of legs while adjusting walking stride and rhythm by having a motor sit on each hip and help lifting leg.
Body Support Assist (BSA) adds the ability to support bodyweight during squatting and crouching by taking the load of the knees and hips with an exoskeleton structure. The built-on seat, frame and shoes facilitate natural movements and postures of users by assisting forces toward user's center of gravity and control the assist force in concert with leg movements.
Both devices feature sensors and computerized motors to achieve close to natural movements. Batteries are included to run 2 hours straight on a single charge. Three training modes are available:
- Following mode: The Walking Assist Device influence the user’s walking motions based on the walking pattern of the user.
- Symmetric mode: Based on the walking patterns of the user, the Walking Assist Device influences the user to achieve bilaterally symmetric motions such as bending and extending both legs.
- Step mode: The Walking Assist Device influence the user’s steps repeatedly to recover the rocker functions* which enable the smooth shifting of weight.
As a feasible means for stroke patients' mobility rehabilitation, the Honda Walking Assist Devices have gone through clinical trials in Japan and have been leased to hospitals and rehab facilities countrywide. The devices also found application in workplace where worker's muscle strain is developed from heavy-lifting, repetitious bending and long periods of walking and standing.