Robotic rehabilitation is a promising approach to treat individuals with neurological or orthopedic disorders. However, despite significant advancements in the field of rehabilitation robotics, this technology has found limited traction in clinical practice. A key reason for this issue is that most robots are expensive, bulky, and not scalable for in-home rehabilitation. Here, we introduce a semi-passive rehabilitation robot (SepaRRo) that uses controllable passive actuators (i.e., brakes) to provide controllable resistances at the end-effector over a large workspace in a manner that is cost-effective and safe for in-home use. We also validated the device through theoretical analyses, hardware experiments, and human subject experiments. We found that by including kinematic redundancies in the robot’s linkages, the device was able to provide controllable resistances to purely resist the movement of the end-effector, or to gently steer (i.e., perturb) its motion away from the intended path. When testing these capabilities on human subjects, we found that many of the upper-extremity muscles could be selectively targeted based on the forcefield prescribed to the user. These results indicate that SepaRRo could serve as a low-cost therapeutic tool for upper-extremity rehabilitation; however, further testing is required to evaluate its therapeutic benefits in patient population.
Annals of Biomedical Engineering – Springer Journals
Published: Apr 6, 2018
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