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A pneumatic robot for re-training arm movement after stroke: rationale and mechanical design

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9 Author(s)
Sanchez, R.J., Jr. ; Dept. of Mech. & Aerosp. Eng., California Univ., Irvine, CA, USA ; Wolbrecht, E. ; Smith, R. ; Liu, J.
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This paper describes the development of a pneumatic robot for functional movement training of the arm and hand after stroke. The device is based on the Wilmington Robotic Exoskeleton (WREX), a passive, mobile arm support developed for children with arm weakness caused by a debilitative condition. Previously, we scaled WREX for use by adults, instrumented it with potentiometers, and incorporated a simple grip strength sensor. The resulting passive device (Training WREX or "T-WREX") allows individuals with severe motor impairment to practice functional movements (reaching, eating, and washing) in a simple virtual reality environment called Java Therapy 2.0. However, the device is limited since it can only apply a fixed pattern of assistive forces to the arm. In addition, its gravity balance function does not restore full range of motion. Therefore, we are also developing a robotic version of WREX named Pneu-WREX, which can apply a wide range of forces to the arm during naturalistic movements. Pneu-WREX uses pneumatic actuators, non-linear force control, and passive counter-balancing to allow application of a wide range of forces during naturalistic upper extremity movements. Besides a detailed description of the mechanical design and kinematics of Pneu-WREX, we present results from a survey of 29 therapists on the use of such a robotic device.

Published in:

Rehabilitation Robotics, 2005. ICORR 2005. 9th International Conference on

Date of Conference:

28 June-1 July 2005