Posts Tagged Assistive robotics

[Editorial] Rehabilitation and assistive robotics – Advances in Mechanical Engineering

It is estimated that in the European Union (EU) the proportion of the population aged over 65 years will rise from 17.1% in 2008 to 30% in 2060 and that the proportion of persons aged over 80 years will rise from 4.4% to 12.1% over the same period (EUROSTAT population projections). Neurological conditions, especially stroke, are a major cause of disability among older people. Incidence of a first stroke in Europe is about 1.1 million and prevalence about 6 million. Currently, about 75% of stroke sufferers survive 1 year after. This proportion will increase in the coming years due to steadily increasing quality in hyper-acute lifesaving practice, follow-up acute and sub-acute care, and lifelong management of these conditions. Despite these positive developments in stroke care, approximately 80% of stroke patients experience long-term reduced manual dexterity, a 72% of those affected by stroke suffer leg weakness, affecting walking, and half of all patients with neurological conditions are unable to perform everyday tasks. Rehabilitation and assistive robotics have the potential to change older people lives improving their recovery and/or supporting them to perform everyday tasks.

The purpose of this special collection is to provide an opportunity for researchers working in academy or industry to show their latest theoretical, technological, and experimental aspects of rehabilitation and assistive robotics. A total of eight articles have been accepted after a strict peer review process.

In the topic of rehabilitation robotics, Fraile et al. present an end-effector rehabilitation robot, a 2-degree-of-freedom planar robotic platform for upper limb rehabilitation in post-stroke patients. In addition, they describe the ergonomic mechanical design, the system control architecture, and the rehabilitation therapies that can be performed by the aforementioned rehabilitation robot. There are other two more papers included in this topic. In the first one, Diez et al. propose a novel multimodal robotic system for upper-limb neurorehabilitation therapies in physical environments, interacting with real objects. This system consists of an end-effector upper-limb rehabilitation robot, a hand exoskeleton, a gaze tracking system, an object tracking system, and electromyography measuring units. Their experimental results show that the proposed system is feasible and safe enough. Wrong detections in electromyography (EMG) are the main cause of failure; however, in the 97% of the trials, it still resulted in successful grasping and releasing. In the second one, Simonetti et al. present the design and development of a modular architecture for delivering upper limb robotic telerehabilitation with the CBM-Motus, a planar unilateral robotic machine. Their architecture allows a therapist to set a therapy session on his or her side and send it to the patient’s side with a standardized communication protocol; the user interacts with the robot that provides an adaptive assistance during the rehabilitation tasks. Moreover, the experimental results with seven healthy subjects show the reliability of the novel architecture and the capability to be easily tailored to the user’s needs with the chosen robotic device.

In the topic of robotic prosthetics, Barone et al. propose a multilevel control of an anthropomorphic robotic hand with prosthetic features. The novel approach is based on two distinct levels consisting of (1) a policy search learning algorithm combined with central pattern generators in the higher level and (2) a parallel force/position control managing slippage events in the lower level. Their experimental results demonstrate that the proposed control has the potential to adapt to changes in the environment and guarantees grasp stability, by avoiding object fall thanks to prompt slippage event detection. Moreover, Sekine et al. present the development of a shoulder prosthesis based on a hybrid actuation system composed of pneumatic elastic actuators (PEAs) and servo motors. Their results show that the joints with PEAs could absorb more impact force, which is very important for safe use, than with motors.

In this special collection, there are two papers in the field of wearable exoskeletons. In the first one, Ning et al. present the design and development of a power-assisted gait orthosis. The paper analysed the gait characteristics with crutches, designed the mechanical architecture, and optimized it using genetic algorithms. Moreover, the performance of the final design is verified under many external conditions, such as no-load, gait movement, long-term continuous movement, and load tests. In the second one, Zhang et al. propose a human–machine force interaction designing architecture for a load-carrying exoskeleton. Their experimental results show that the human–machine interaction force detection at the back and feet and the identification of different body modalities and movement intention are feasible. Moreover, the actual load on the human back is far less than the payload, which shows that their exoskeleton has good power-assisted effect.

The last paper included in this special collection is about a novel algorithm to estimate the instantaneous tremor parameters such as the time-varying dominant frequency in the case of nonsynchronous sampling and to distinguish the tremulous movement from the raw data. The experimental results reported by Wang et al. demonstrate that the proposed solution could detect the unknown dominant frequency and distinguish the tremor components with higher accuracy than the existing procedures.

Source: Rehabilitation and assistive roboticsAdvances in Mechanical Engineering – Nicolas Garcia-Aracil, Alicia Casals, Elena Garcia, 2017

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[Abstract] A soft supernumerary robotic finger and mobile arm support for grasping compensation and hemiparetic upper limb rehabilitation


In this paper, we present the combination of our soft supernumerary robotic finger i.e. Soft-SixthFinger with a commercially available zero gravity arm support, the SaeboMAS. The overall proposed system can provide the needed assistance during paretic upper limb rehabilitation involving both grasping and arm mobility to solve task-oriented activities. The Soft-SixthFinger is a wearable robotic supernumerary finger designed to be used as an active assistive device by post stroke patients to compensate the paretic hand grasp. The device works jointly with the paretic hand/arm to grasp an object similarly to the two parts of a robotic gripper. The SaeboMAS is a commercially available mobile arm support to neutralize gravity effects on the paretic arm specifically designed to facilitate and challenge the weakened shoulder muscles during functional tasks. The proposed system has been designed to be used during the rehabilitation phase when the arm is potentially able to recover its functionality, but the hand is still not able to perform a grasp due to the lack of an efficient thumb opposition. The overall system also act as a motivation tool for the patients to perform task-oriented rehabilitation activities.

With the aid of proposed system, the patient can closely simulate the desired motion with the non-functional arm for rehabilitation purposes, while performing a grasp with the help of the Soft-SixthFinger. As a pilot study we tested the proposed system with a chronic stroke patient to evaluate how the mobile arm support in conjunction with a robotic supernumerary finger can help in performing the tasks requiring the manipulation of grasped object through the paretic arm. In particular, we performed the Frenchay Arm Test (FAT) and Box and Block Test (BBT). The proposed system successfully enabled the patient to complete tasks which were previously impossible to perform.

Source: A soft supernumerary robotic finger and mobile arm support for grasping compensation and hemiparetic upper limb rehabilitation

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[ARTICLE] Computational architecture of a robot coach for physical exercises in kinaesthetic rehabilitation – Full Text PDF


The rising number of the elderly incurs growing concern about healthcare, and in particular rehabilitation healthcare. Assistive technology and and assistive robotics in particular may help to improve this process. We develop a robot coach capable of demonstrating rehabilitation exercises to patients, watch a patient carry out the exercises and give him feedback so as to improve his performance and encourage him. We propose a general software architecture for our robot coach, which is based on imitation learning techniques using Gaussian Mixture Models. Our system is thus easily programmable by medical experts without specific robotics knowledge, as well as capable of personalised audio feedback to patients indicating useful information to improve on their physical rehabilitation exercise.

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Robot 2015: Second Iberian Robotics Conference: Advances in Robotics – Google Books

This book contains a selection of papers accepted for presentation and discussion at ROBOT 2015: Second Iberian Robotics Conference, held in Lisbon, Portugal, November 19th-21th, 2015.

ROBOT 2015 is part of a series of conferences that are a joint organization of SPR – “Sociedade Portuguesa de Robótica/ Portuguese Society for Robotics”, SEIDROB – Sociedad Española para la Investigación y Desarrollo de la Robótica/ Spanish Society for Research and Development in Robotics and CEA-GTRob – Grupo Temático de Robótica/ Robotics Thematic Group.

The conference organization had also the collaboration of several universities and research institutes, including: University of Minho, University of Porto, University of Lisbon, Polytechnic Institute of Porto, University of Aveiro, University of Zaragoza, University of Malaga, LIACC, INESC-TEC and LARSyS. Robot 2015 was focussed on the Robotics scientific and technological activities in the Iberian Peninsula, although open to research and delegates from other countries.

The conference featured 19 special sessions, plus a main/general robotics track. The special sessions were about: Agricultural Robotics and Field Automation; Autonomous Driving and Driver Assistance Systems; Communication Aware Robotics; Environmental Robotics; Social Robotics: Intelligent and Adaptable AAL Systems; Future Industrial Robotics Systems; Legged Locomotion Robots; Rehabilitation and Assistive Robotics; Robotic Applications in Art and Architecture; Surgical Robotics; Urban Robotics; Visual Perception for Autonomous Robots; Machine Learning in Robotics; Simulation and Competitions in Robotics; Educational Robotics; Visual Maps in Robotics; Control and Planning in Aerial Robotics, the XVI edition of the Workshop on Physical Agents and a Special Session on Technological Transfer and Innovation.

Source: Robot 2015: Second Iberian Robotics Conference: Advances in Robotics – Google Books

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