In this article, we present the design of a novel ankle rehabilitation robot (ARR), called the Flex-ARR, that employs a compliant parallel kinematic mechanism (PKM) with decoupled degrees-of-freedom. While multiple ARRs have been developed and commercialized, their clinical adoption has been limited primarily because they do not emulate the natural motion of the ankle. Based on a review of existing ARRs and their limitations, this article defines functional requirements and design specifications for an optimal ARR. These are then used to develop a design strategy followed by conceptual and detailed design of a novel ARR. The proposed Flex-ARR is designed to collocate the biological center of rotation of the ankle with that of the robot’s center of rotation to allow natural ankle motion. The strategic use of a compliant PKM in the Flex-ARR not only absorbs any residual misalignment between these two centers but also helps inherently accommodate variations in user foot sizes with minimal adjustments. Detailed design includes the ARR structure with adjustable features, compliant PKM optimization, sensor and actuator selection, and an alignment tool.
Journal of Mechanisms and Robotics Open Issues