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The structural design, control system, and integrated biofeedback for a wearable exoskeletal robot for upper extremity stroke rehabilitation are presented. Assisted with clinical evaluation, designers, engineers, and scientists have built a device for robotic assisted upper extremity repetitive therapy (RUPERT). Intense, repetitive physical rehabilitation has been shown to be beneficial overcoming upper extremity deficits, but the therapy is labor intensive and expensive and difficult to evaluate quantitatively and objectively. The RUPERT is developed to provide a low cost, safe and easy-to-use, robotic-device to assist the patient and therapist to achieve more systematic therapy at home or in the clinic. The RUPERT has four actuated degrees-of-freedom driven by compliant and safe pneumatic muscles (PMs) on the shoulder, elbow, and wrist. They are programmed to actuate the device to extend the arm and move the arm in 3-D space. It is very important to note that gravity is not compensated and the daily tasks are practiced in a natural setting. Because the device is wearable and lightweight to increase portability, it can be worn standing or sitting providing therapy tasks that better mimic activities of daily living. The sensors feed back position and force information for quantitative evaluation of task performance. The device can also provide real-time, objective assessment of functional improvement. We have tested the device on stroke survivors performing two critical activities of daily living (ADL): reaching out and self feeding. The future improvement of the device involves increased degrees-of-freedom and interactive control to adapt to a user's physical conditions.
Neural Systems and Rehabilitation Engineering, IEEE Transactions on (Volume:15 , Issue: 3 )
Date of Publication: Sept. 2007