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[Abstract] A Portable Passive Rehabilitation Robot for Upper-Extremity Functional Resistance Training

Abstract:

Objective: Loss of arm function is common in individuals with neurological damage, such as stroke or cerebral palsy. Robotic devices that address muscle strength deficits in a task-specific manner can assist in the recovery of arm function; however, current devices are typically large, bulky, and expensive to be routinely used in the clinic or at home. This study sought to address this issue by developing a portable planar passive rehabilitation robot, PaRRo. Methods: We designed PaRRo with a mechanical layout that incorporated kinematic redundancies to generate forces that directly oppose the user’s movement. Cost-efficient eddy current brakes were used to provide scalable resistances. The lengths of the robot’s linkages were optimized to have a reasonably large workspace for human planar reaching. We then performed theoretical analysis of the robot’s resistive force generating capacity and steerable workspace using MATLAB simulations. We also validated the device by having a subject move the end-effector along different paths at a set velocity using a metronome while simultaneously collecting surface electromyography (EMG) and end-effector forces felt by the user. Results: Results from simulation experiments indicated that the robot was capable of producing sufficient end-effector forces for functional resistance training. We also found the endpoint forces from the user were similar to the theoretical forces expected at any direction of motion. EMG results indicated that the device was capable of providing adjustable resistances based on subjects’ ability levels, as the muscle activation levels scaled with increasing magnet exposures. Conclusion: These results indicate that PaRRo is a feasible approach to provide functional resistance training to the muscles along the upper extremity. Significance: The proposed robotic device could provide a technological breakthrough that will make rehabilitation robots accessible for small outpatient rehabilitation centers and in-home therapy.

via A Portable Passive Rehabilitation Robot for Upper-Extremity Functional Resistance Training – IEEE Journals & Magazine

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