Stroke is one of the leading causes of disability worldwide. Consequently, many stroke survivors exhibit difficulties undergoing voluntary movement in their affected upper limb, compromising their functional performance and level of independence. To minimize the negative impact of stroke disabilities, exercises are recognized as a key element in post-stroke rehabilitation.
In order to provide the practice of exercises in a uniform and controlled manner as well as increasing the efficiency of therapists’ interventions, robotic training has been found, and continues to prove itself, as an innovative intervention for post-stroke rehabilitation. However, the complexity as well as the limited degrees of freedom and workspace of currently commercially available robots can limit their use in clinical settings. Up to now, user-friendly robots covering a sufficiently large workspace for training of the upper limb in its full range of motion are lacking.
This paper presents the design and implementation of ERA, an upper-limb 3-DOF force-controlled exerciser robot, which presents a workspace covering the entire range of motion of the upper limb. The ERA robot provides 3D reaching movements in a haptic virtual environment. A description of the hardware and software components of the ERA robot is also presented along with a demonstration of its capabilities in one of the three operational modes that were developed.