As some studies show, the number of people over 65 years old increases constantly, leading to the need of solution to provide services regarding patient mobility. Diseases, accidents and neurologic problems affect hundreds of people every day, causing pain and lost of motor functions.
The ability of using the upper limb is indispensable for a human being in everyday activities, making easy tasks like drinking a glass of water a real challenge. We can agree that physiotherapy promotes recovery, but not at an optimal level, due to limited financial and human resources. Hence, the need of robot-assisted rehabilitation emerges.
A robot for upper-limb exercises should have a design that can accurately control interaction forces and progressively adapt assistance to the patients’ abilities and also to record the patient’s motion and evolution. In this paper a short overview of upper limb rehabilitation devices is presented. Our goal is to find the shortcomings of the current developed devices in terms of utility, ease of use and costs, for future development of a mechatronic system for upper limb rehabilitation.
The upper limb is an important part of the human body, which is very mobile and has a role in gripping different objects, transporting, moving and touching them. This limb has three major joints: shoulder, elbow and wrist. The shoulder is the junction of the trunk with the upper limbs, ensuring high amplitude movements of the arms. The elbow joint has a single degree of freedom and has a role in flexion/extension movement of the forearm on the arm.
The hand is the most complicated segment of the body. The main role of the hand is to grasp and sustain objects combined with an important tactile role. Every year millions of people worldwide suffer from injuries of the upper limb, such as contusions, inflammations or fractures. The most frequent accidents are produced at the extremities level (fingers, hand), followed by those at elbow level. The age that is most prone to fractures is between 20 and 40 years, people being exposed to these traumas due to their activities.
The second period with increased trauma incidence is after 60/70 years old, when the bone strength is low. Children are less prone to trauma due to their bones elasticity . As part of the recovery process a patient is required to execute exercises, which aim to fully recover the joint mobility. The integration of new technologies in rehabilitation therapies led to the development of active and passive devices for upper limb rehabilitation, classified as follows: exoskeletons, haptic interface systems, simple rehabilitation systems. In this paper a short overview of upper limb rehabilitation devices is presented.