Posts Tagged exoskeletons

[Abstract] Robotic Devices to Enhance Human Movement Performance.


Robotic exoskeletons and bionic prostheses have moved from science fiction to science reality in the last decade. These robotic devices for assisting human movement are now technically feasible given recent advancements in robotic actuators, sensors, and computer processors. However, despite the ability to build robotic hardware that is wearable by humans, we still do not have optimal controllers to allow humans to move with coordination and grace in synergy with the robotic devices. We consider the history of robotic exoskeletons and bionic limb prostheses to provide a better assessment of the roadblocks that have been overcome and to gauge the roadblocks that still remain. There is a strong need for kinesiologists to work with engineers to better assess the performance of robotic movement assistance devices. In addition, the identification of new performance metrics that can objectively assess multiple dimensions of human performance with robotic exoskeletons and bionic prostheses would aid in moving the field forward. We discuss potential control approaches for these robotic devices, with a preference for incorporating feedforward neural signals from human users to provide a wider repertoire of discrete and adaptive rhythmic movements.

Source: Robotic Devices to Enhance Human Movement Performance: Kinesiology Review: Vol 6, No 1

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[VIDEO] Robots help stroke victims regain use of arms – Euronews

Introduced two decades ago for patients with neurological disorders, rehabilitation robotics is now a relatively widespread recovery method for patients.

At the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery in London, robots are used to help stroke victims regain the use of their arms.

Exoskeletons are attached to computer games specially designed to exercise specific sets of upper body muscles. At least 500 repetitions of a movement are needed to make any lasting change.

“It adds variety to the rehabilitation that they’re receiving which adds interest, and patients need to focus on what they’re doing and they need to concentrate again in order to change to affect plasticity,” says Fran Brander, a clinical physiotherapist at the NHNN in London.

“But it’s not the be all and end all. We couldn’t just buy six robots and have no therapists, or nobody to do the hands-on stuff, because the robot won’t lengthen tight muscles, it won’t know which are the specifically weak muscles that need strengthening.”

Before starting the exercise, the patient’s ability to move his or her arm is fed into the computer. If they are unable to move their arm, the robot moves it for them. If they start to move, the robot provides adjustable levels of assistance to help out, helping the brain and arm to learn to work together again.

“You forget what the arm can do when it hasn’t been used for some time. So they teach you new skills and put you on this upper hand clinic (clinical device) to encourage you to be able to use the right arm again,” explains one patient.

While the introduction of such devices doesn’t mean traditional physiotherapy is no longer needed, it can leave the most repetitive exercises to machines, freeing up more time for other, more complex tasks by humans.

Source: Robots help stroke victims regain use of arms | Euronews

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[Abstract] Digital mirror box: An interactive hand-motor BMI rehabilitation tool for stroke patients


We develop a brain-machine interface for the hand-motor rehabilitation of stroke patients. The interface provides both visual and proprioceptive feedback to the user based upon the successful generation of cortical motor commands. We discuss the details of the proposed system and provide a summary of the preliminary experiment. The experiment investigates the importance of simultaneous visual and proprioceptive feedback to the delivery of motor commands from the affected motor cortex of the patients. We also discuss a case study involving a chronic stroke patient who trained with the system for 14 days to recover functional movement in the hand. The results obtained by this study suggest that the developed system is effective at accelerating the recovery of motor function in stroke patients with hand paralysis.

Date of Conference: 13-16 Dec. 2016

Date Added to IEEE Xplore: 19 January 2017

ISBN Information:

Electronic ISBN: 978-9-8814-7682-1

Print on Demand(PoD) ISBN: 978-1-5090-2401-8


References Cited:


Publisher: IEEE

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Source: Digital mirror box: An interactive hand-motor BMI rehabilitation tool for stroke patients – IEEE Xplore Document

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[Abstract] A novel scheme of finger recovery based on symmetric rehabilitation: Specially for hemiplegia


Finger recovery is much harder than other parts on the upper limbs, because finger recovery movement has several key problems need to overcome, including high precision of movement, high control resolution requirements, variable data with different person, as well as the fuzzy signal during the movement. In order to overcome the difficulties, a new scheme of finger recovery is presented in the paper based on symmetric rehabilitation. In the paralyzed hand side, a mechanical exoskeleton hand is designed and simulated to provide skeletal traction, while in the regular hand side, the curve magnitude of every joint during movement is detected. Then the hand motion is analyzed and recognized using Multi-class SVM. Many candidates were chosen to perform the experiment, and the data produced by the candidates were divided the training parts and recognition parts. Experiments shows that the Multi-class SVM is effective and practical for classification and recognition, and could be helpful in the finger recovery process.

Source: A novel scheme of finger recovery based on symmetric rehabilitation: Specially for hemiplegia – IEEE Xplore Document

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[Abstract] Combining a hybrid robotic system with a bain-machine interface for the rehabilitation of reaching movements: A case study with a stroke patient


Reaching and grasping are two of the most affected functions after stroke. Hybrid rehabilitation systems combining Functional Electrical Stimulation with Robotic devices have been proposed in the literature to improve rehabilitation outcomes. In this work, we present the combined use of a hybrid robotic system with an EEG-based Brain-Machine Interface to detect the user’s movement intentions to trigger the assistance. The platform has been tested in a single session with a stroke patient. The results show how the patient could successfully interact with the BMI and command the assistance of the hybrid system with low latencies. Also, the Feedback Error Learning controller implemented in this system could adjust the required FES intensity to perform the task.

I. Introduction

Stroke is a leading cause of adult disability around the world. A large number of stroke survivors are left with a unilateral arm or leg paralysis. After completing conventional rehabilitation therapy, a significant number of stroke survivors are left with limited reaching and grasping capabilities [1].

Source: Combining a hybrid robotic system with a bain-machine interface for the rehabilitation of reaching movements: A case study with a stroke patient – IEEE Xplore Document

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[Abstract] Design of a thumb module for the FINGER rehabilitation robot


This paper describes the design and initial prototype of a thumb curling exoskeleton for movement therapy. This add-on device for the Finger INdividuating Grasp Exercise Robot (FINGER) guides the thumb through a single-degree-of-freedom naturalistic grasping motion. This motion complements the grasping motions of the index and middle fingers provided by FINGER. The kinematic design and mechanism synthesis described herein utilized 3D motion capture and included the determination of the principle plane of the thumb motion for the simple grasping movement. The results of the design process and the creation of a first prototype indicate that this thumb module for finger allows naturalistic thumb motion that expands the capabilities of the FINGER device.

Source: IEEE Xplore Document – Design of a thumb module for the FINGER rehabilitation robot

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[Overview] A short overview of upper limb rehabilitation devices – Full Text PDF


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.

1. Introduction

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.Image result for InMotion Wrist

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 [1]. 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.

Full Text Pdf

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[Editorial] Advances in Rehabilitation and Assistive Robots for Restoring Limb Function in Persons with Movement Disorders. 


Advances in Rehabilitation and Assistive Robots for Restoring Limb Function in Persons with Movement Disorders

1Department of Health Care Sciences, UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, Dallas, TX 75390, USA
2Research Center for Neural Engineering, The Institute of Biomedical and Health Engineering, Shenzhen Institutes of Advanced Technology, Shenzhen 518055, China
3School of Energy Systems, Lappeenranta University of Technology, 53851 Lappeenranta, Finland
4The Robotics Research Group, College of Engineering, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China
5The Sensory Motor Performance Program, Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL 60611, USA
6Faculty of Health Sciences and Medicine, Bond University, Robina, QLD 4226, Australia

Received 3 July 2016; Accepted 3 July 2016

Copyright © 2016 Fan Gao et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

People with movement disorders are plagued with debilitating conditions, which significantly degrade their quality of life. Traditional rehabilitation typically involves intensive interaction between patients and therapists. While effective, traditional rehabilitation cannot keep abreast of the increasing patient population primarily attributed to a higher surviving rate after diseases and/or injuries. Furthermore, patients living in the rural areas have fairly limited access to rehabilitation services. In the past two decades, tremendous efforts have been put into developing rehabilitation and assistive robots to facilitate the rehabilitation training while relieving the physical involvement of therapists and/or lowering the related cost. Most notably, the rehabilitation and assistive robots have been significantly advanced with developments in actuators, sensors, microprocessors, and mobile software platforms. However, unlike traditional robotics, the intimate interaction between robot and human in rehabilitation robots indicates that the success is also closely related to a thorough understanding of the human neuromuscular aspects and human-machine interaction.

This special issue primarily aims to gather the latest achievements in rehabilitation robots, exoskeletons, and prostheses including the following topics:

(a) development of rehabilitation robots, exoskeleton, and upper/lower limb prostheses driven by bionics;
(b) functional evaluation of rehabilitation robots, exoskeleton, and upper/lower limb prostheses with an emphasis on human movement biomechanics;
(c) musculoskeletal modeling and simulation of human movements while wearing exoskeleton or prostheses;
(d) noninvasive human-machine interface based on electromyography and/or electroencephalogram;
(e) sensors for monitoring kinematics/kinetics, as well as biological signals in real time;
(f) innovative actuators and control algorithms applied to rehabilitation robots, exoskeletons, and prostheses.

In this special issue, collective studies address the aforementioned key elements via both technical and biomechanical approaches. A reconfigurable robotic hand exoskeleton was proposed to meet the fast growing need in hand rehabilitation. A novel control algorithm integrating sliding model control with cerebellar model articulation controller neural network was implemented in lower limb exoskeleton to enhance the coordination between patient and exoskeleton. An upper limb exoskeleton was enhanced with integrated optical cameras to offer more accurate estimation of joint posture than traditional motion capture system. A hybrid upper limb rehabilitation system consisting of a shoulder-elbow-forearm exoskeleton and a robotic manipulator was validated and tested in the clinic. The characteristics of muscle-tendon stimulation such as perception threshold and vibration frequency significantly influenced the muscle forces as well as the reaction time. Patellar retention was found to be superior to patellar replacement in knee arthroplasty via a comprehensive computer simulation. These collective studies, as part of the latest representative work, offered some new insights into the development and implementation of rehabilitation and assistive robots.

Fan Gao
Guanglin Li
Huapeng Wu
Qining Wang
Jie Liu
Justin Keogh

Source: Advances in Rehabilitation and Assistive Robots for Restoring Limb Function in Persons with Movement Disorders

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[ARTICLE] The Cybathlon promotes the development of assistive technology for people with physical disabilities – Full Text



The Cybathlon is a new kind of championship, where people with physical disabilities compete against each other at tasks of daily life, with the aid of advanced assistive devices including robotic technologies. The first championship will take place at the Swiss Arena Kloten, Zurich, on 8 October 2016.

The idea

Six disciplines are part of the competition comprising races with powered leg prostheses, powered arm prostheses, functional electrical stimulation driven bikes, powered wheelchairs, powered exoskeletons and brain-computer interfaces. This commentary describes the six disciplines and explains the current technological deficiencies that have to be addressed by the competing teams. These deficiencies at present often lead to disappointment or even rejection of some of the related technologies in daily applications.


The Cybathlon aims to promote the development of useful technologies that facilitate the lives of people with disabilities. In the long run, the developed devices should become affordable and functional for all relevant activities in daily life.


Competition, Championship ,Prostheses, Exoskeletons ,Functional electrical stimulation, Wheelchairs, Brain computer interfaces


Millions of people worldwide rely on orthotic, prosthetic, wheelchairs and other assistive devices to improve their qualities of life. In the US there live more than 1.6 million people with limb amputations [1] and the World Health Organization estimates the number of wheelchair users to about 65 million people worldwide [2]. Unfortunately, current assistive technology does not address their needs in an ideal fashion. For instance, wheelchairs cannot climb stairs, arm prostheses do not enable versatile hand functions, and power supplies of many orthotic and prosthetic devices are limited. There is a need to further push the development of assistive devices by pooling the efforts of engineers and clinicians to develop improved technologies, together with the feedback and experiences of the users of the technologies.

The Cybathlon is a new kind of championship with the aim of promoting the development of useful technologies. In contrast with the Paralympics, where parathletes aim to achieve maximum performance, at the Cybathlon, people with physical disabilities compete against each other at tasks of daily life, with the aid of advanced assistive devices including robotic technologies. Most current assistive devices lack satisfactory function; people with disabilities are often disappointed, and thus do not use and accept the technology. Rejection can be due to a lack of communication between developers, people with disabilities, therapists and clinicians, which leads to a disregard of user needs and requirements. Other reasons could be that the health status, level of lesion or financial situation of the potential user are so severe that she or he is unable to use the available technologies. Furthermore, barriers in public environments make the use of assistive technologies often very cumbersome or even impossible.

Six disciplines are part of the competition, addressing people with either limb paralysis or limb amputations. The six disciplines comprise races with powered leg prostheses, powered arm prostheses, functional electrical stimulation (FES) driven bikes, powered wheelchairs and powered exoskeletons (Fig. 1). The sixth discipline is a racing game with virtual avatars that are controlled by brain-computer interfaces (BCI). The functional and assistive devices used can be prototypes developed by research labs or companies, or commercially available products. The competitors are called pilots, as they have to control a device that enhances their mobility. The teams each consist of a pilot together with scientists and technology providers, making the Cybathlon also a competition between companies and research laboratories. As a result there are two awards for each winning team in each discipline: a medal for the person who is controlling the device and a cup for the provider of the device (i.e. the company or the lab).

Fig. 1 Arena with four parallel race tracks designed for the exoskeleton competition. The pilots start at the left and have to overcome six obstacles with increasing difficulty level

Continue —> The Cybathlon promotes the development of assistive technology for people with physical disabilities | Journal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation | Full Text

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[WEB SITE] The Elderly May Toss Their Walkers for This Robotic Suit

No one wants to walk with a walker, but age has a way of making people compromise on their quality of life. The team behind Superflex, which spun out of SRI International in May, thinks there could be another way.

The company is building wearable robotic suits, plus other types of clothing, that can make it easier for soldiers to carry heavy loads or for elderly or disabled people to perform basic tasks. A current prototype is a soft suit that fits over most of the body. It delivers a jolt of supporting power to the legs, arms, or torso exactly when needed to reduce the burden of a load or correct for the body’s shortcomings.

The Superflex suit learns a wearer’s gate in order to kick in power when needed.

A walker is a “very cost-effective” solution for people with limited mobility, but “it completely disempowers, removes dignity, removes freedom, and causes a whole host of other psychological problems,” SRI Ventures president Manish Kothari says. “Superflex’s goal is to remove all of those areas that cause psychological-type encumbrances and, ultimately, redignify the individual.”

A senior with shaky hands could use the technology to achieve a steadier grip. Or a soldier could wear the suit to conserve energy while carrying a heavy pack.

Superflex’s suit uses a suite of sensors to learn wearers’ individual movement styles and safely kicks in power at the exact moment it is needed. As a result, the suit’s batteries last much longer than they would if they were fully powering each step or motion (though the company would not state how long the batteries do last). This is important because even as computing has advanced rapidly, batteries and motors have remained bulky and limited in their power.

“For an elderly or general population with reduced mobility due to injury or disease, [the suit] could restore mobility and independence and therefore increase the quality of life,” says Volker Bartenbach, an exoskeleton researcher at ETH Zurich, who is not involved with Superflex. For example, he says, it could enable people to climb stairs again. A suit like this could also increase productivity and reduce the risk of injury in the workplace, Bartenbach says.

Other powered exoskeletons are also under development for medical and industrial applications. The $40,000 Phoenix suit is designed to help someone totally paralyzed from the waist down walk again. Superflex, which doesn’t aim to provide full mobility, is joined in its category by a wide variety of suits from institutions like Hyundai and Harvard’s Wyss Institute. It stands apart for its compact size and unique way of learning each wearer’s stride in order to provide extra power at the right moment.

Kothari couldn’t say how much the suit will cost or what exactly it will look like, because the company is currently looking at options for its commercialization. While it currently takes five minutes or less to put on with some practice, he believes the commercial product will take just two minutes to get into. He emphasizes that affordability has been a goal at every step of the design process. SRI International is also working on several other projects that involve powered clothing to make people’s lives easier.

Source: The Elderly May Toss Their Walkers for This Robotic Suit

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