Latest Papers

ASME Journal of Mechanisms and Robotics

  • Mechanical Characterization of Supernumerary Robotic Tails for Human Balance Augmentation
    on August 31, 2023 at 12:00 am

    AbstractHumans are intrinsically unstable in quiet stance from a rigid body system viewpoint; however, they maintain balance, thanks to neuro-muscular sensory control properties. With increasing levels of balance related incidents in industrial and ageing populations globally each year, the development of assistive mechanisms to augment human balance is paramount. This work investigates the mechanical characteristics of kinematically dissimilar one and two degrees-of-freedom (DoF) supernumerary robotic tails for balance augmentation. Through dynamic simulations and manipulability assessments, the importance of variable coupling inertia in creating a sufficient reaction torque is highlighted. It is shown that two-DoF tails with solely revolute joints are best suited to address the balance augmentation issue. Within the two-DoF options, the characteristics of open versus closed loop tails are investigated, with the ultimate design selection requiring trade-offs between environmental workspace, biomechanical factors, and manufacturing ease to be made.

Design Framework and Clinical Evaluation of a Passive Hydraulic Patient Simulator for Biceps Spasticity Assessment Training


This article presents the framework for developing a passive (unpowered) mechanical training simulator for replication of biceps spasticity to complement current clinical assessment training. The passive training simulator was developed to mimic three main behavioral features of spasticity, i.e., abnormal muscle tone, catch-release behavior, and range of motion (ROM) reduction. The simulator can replicate varied levels of spasticity (Modified Ashworth Scale (MAS) levels 0–4) using a combination of three adjustable mechanical design features, i.e., resistance level, catch angle, and ROM selectors. Bench-top evaluation examined the performance of individual mechanical design features, as well as their combined performance. Spastic muscle resistance profiles generated by the simulator qualitatively agreed with the clinical descriptions of spasticity in the MAS. Mean peak simulated resistive torque fell within the clinical measures from actual spasticity patients for MAS 1–4, but was lower for MAS 0 (0.9, 3.5, 4.2, 6.9, 9.8 Nm for MAS 0–4, respectively). Seven clinicians were invited to validate the simulator performance. They were asked to identify the simulated MAS level during a blinded assessment and to score the realism of each simulation feature using a five-point scale, where 3 was “about right,” during a disclosed assessment. The mean percent agreement of clinicians’ judgments was 76 ± 12%. The mean realism score throughout MAS 0–4 were 2.82 ± 0.15. Preliminary results suggested good potential for this simulator in helping future healthcare practitioners learn and practice the basics of spasticity assessment.
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