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Quantifying Anti-Gravity Torques for the Design of a Powered Exoskeleton

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4 Author(s)
Ragonesi, D. ; Dept. of Mech. Eng., Univ. of Delaware, Newark, DE, USA ; Agrawal, S.K. ; Sample, W. ; Rahman, T.

Designing an upper extremity exoskeleton for people with arm weakness requires knowledge of the joint torques due to gravity and joint stiffness, as well as, active residual force capabilities of users. The objective of this research paper is to describe the characteristics of the upper limb of children with upper limb impairment. This paper describes the experimental measurements of the torque on the upper limb due to gravity and joint stiffness of three groups of subjects: able-bodied adults, able-bodied children, and children with neuromuscular disabilities. The experiment involves moving the arm to various positions in the sagittal plane and measuring the resultant force at the forearm. This force is then converted to torques at the elbow and shoulder. These data are compared to a two-link lumped mass model based on anthropomorphic data. Results show that the torques based on anthropometry deviate from experimentally measured torques as the arm goes through the range. Subjects with disabilities also maximally pushed and pulled against the force sensor to measure maximum strength as a function of arm orientation. For all subjects, the maximum voluntary applied torque at the shoulder and elbow in the sagittal plane was found to be lower than gravity torques throughout the disabled subjects' range of motion. This experiment informs designers of upper limb orthoses on the contribution of passive human joint torques due to gravity and joint stiffness and the strength capability of targeted users.

Published in:

Neural Systems and Rehabilitation Engineering, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:21 ,  Issue: 2 )