This paper presents a novel robotic system to characterize and retrain reaching in rats. This robot is intended to be a research platform for the rehabilitation of forelimb movements in rats. In this paper, we focus on the design of this robotic system. We present the design requirements, mathematical models, and details of the physical device. A parallel mechanism with a special alignment of the component chains is used to accommodate observed reaching motions of a rat’s forelimb. Additionally, we demonstrate the use of this robot to record forelimb trajectories. Three healthy rats were used to record repeated reaching motions while the robot applied nearly zero force. We believe that this robotic system can be used in future training studies with rats who have impaired arm motions due to a neurological insult.
Journal of Mechanisms and Robotics Open Issues