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Lower Limb Gait Simulator Based on a Pure External Force

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For the past two decades, advanced Limb Gait Simulators and Exoskeletons have been developed to improve walking rehabilitation. A Limb Gait Simulator is used to analyze the human step cycle and/or assist a user walking on a treadmill. Most modern

For the past two decades, advanced Limb Gait Simulators and Exoskeletons have been developed to improve walking rehabilitation. A Limb Gait Simulator is used to analyze the human step cycle and/or assist a user walking on a treadmill. Most modern limb gait simulators, such as ALEX, have proven themselves effective and reliable through their usage of motors, springs, cables, elastics, pneumatics and reaction loads. These mechanisms apply internal forces and reaction loads to the body. On the other hand, external forces are those caused by an external agent outside the system such as air, water, or magnets. A design for an exoskeleton using external forces has seldom been attempted by researchers. This thesis project focuses on the development of a Limb Gait Simulator based on a Pure External Force and has proven its effectiveness in generating torque on the human leg. The external force is generated through air propulsion using an Electric Ducted Fan (EDF) motor. Such a motor is typically used for remote control airplanes, but their applications can go beyond this. The objective of this research is to generate torque on the human leg through the control of the EDF engines thrust and the opening/closing of the reverse thruster flaps. This device qualifies as "assist as needed"; the user is entirely in control of how much assistance he or she may want. Static thrust values for the EDF engine are recorded using a thrust test stand. The product of the thrust (N) and the distance on the thigh (m) is the resulting torque. With the motor running at maximum RPM, the highest torque value reached was that of 3.93 (Nm). The motor EDF motor is powered by a 6S 5000 mAh LiPo battery. This torque value could be increased with the usage of a second battery connected in series, but this comes at a price. The designed limb gait simulator demonstrates that external forces, such as air, could have potential in the development of future rehabilitation devices.

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Date Created
2016-12

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Exoskeletal Hand Fixture for use with Tool Balancing arm for Packing/Warehouse Applications

Description

Many industries require workers in warehouse and stockroom environments to perform frequent lifting tasks. Over time these repeated tasks can lead to excess strain on the worker's body and reduced productivity. This project seeks to develop an exoskeletal wrist fixture

Many industries require workers in warehouse and stockroom environments to perform frequent lifting tasks. Over time these repeated tasks can lead to excess strain on the worker's body and reduced productivity. This project seeks to develop an exoskeletal wrist fixture to be used in conjunction with a powered exoskeleton arm to aid workers performing box lifting types of tasks. Existing products aimed at improving worker comfort and productivity typically employ either fully powered exoskeleton suits or utilize minimally powered spring arms and/or fixtures. These designs either reduce stress to the user's body through powered arms and grippers operated via handheld controls which have limited functionality, or they use a more minimal setup that reduces some load, but exposes the user's hands and wrists to injury by directing support to the forearm. The design proposed here seeks to strike a balance between size, weight, and power requirements and also proposes a novel wrist exoskeleton design which minimizes stress on the user's wrists by directly interfacing with the object to be picked up. The design of the wrist exoskeleton was approached through initially selecting degrees of freedom and a ROM (range of motion) to accommodate. Feel and functionality were improved through an iterative prototyping process which yielded two primary designs. A novel "clip-in" method was proposed to allow the user to easily attach and detach from the exoskeleton. Designs utilized a contact surface intended to be used with dry fibrillary adhesives to maximize exoskeleton grip. Two final designs, which used two pivots in opposite kinematic order, were constructed and tested to determine the best kinematic layout. The best design had two prototypes created to be worn with passive test arms that attached to the user though a specially designed belt.

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2016-12

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Evaluating the Effects of Ankle-Foot-Orthoses, Functional Electrical Stimulators, and Trip-specific Training on Fall Outcomes in Individuals with Stroke

Description

This dissertation aimed to evaluate the effectiveness and drawbacks of promising fall prevention strategies in individuals with stroke by rigorously analyzing the biomechanics of laboratory falls and compensatory movements required to prevent a fall. Ankle-foot-orthoses (AFOs) and functional electrical stimulators

This dissertation aimed to evaluate the effectiveness and drawbacks of promising fall prevention strategies in individuals with stroke by rigorously analyzing the biomechanics of laboratory falls and compensatory movements required to prevent a fall. Ankle-foot-orthoses (AFOs) and functional electrical stimulators (FESs) are commonly prescribed to treat foot drop. Despite well-established positive impacts of AFOs and FES devices on balance and gait, AFO and FES users fall at a high rate. In chapter 2 (as a preliminary study), solely mechanical impacts of a semi-rigid AFO on the compensatory stepping response of young healthy individuals following trip-like treadmill perturbations were evaluated. It was found that a semi-rigid AFO on the stepping leg diminished the propulsive impulse of the compensatory step which led to decreased trunk movement control, shorter step length, and reduced center of mass (COM) stability. These results highlight the critical role of plantarflexors in generating an effective compensatory stepping response. In chapter 3, the underlying biomechanical mechanisms leading to high fall risk in long-term AFO and FES users with chronic stroke were studied. It was found that AFO and FES users fall more than Non-users because they have a more impaired lower limb that is not fully addressed by AFO/FES, therefore leading to a more impaired compensatory stepping response characterized by increased inability to generate a compensatory step with paretic leg and decreased trunk movement control. An ideal future AFO that provides dorsiflexion assistance during the swing phase and plantarflexion assistance during the push-off phase of gait is suggested to enhance the compensatory stepping response and reduce more falls. In chapter 4, the effects of a single-session trip-specific training on the compensatory stepping response of individuals with stroke were evaluated. Trunk movement control was improved after a single session of training suggesting that this type of training is a viable option to enhance compensatory stepping response and reduce falls in individuals with stroke. Finally, a future powered AFO with plantarflexion assistance complemented by a trip-specific training program is suggested to enhance the compensatory stepping response and decrease falls in individuals with stroke.

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Date Created
2019

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Evaluation of Machine Learning Algorithms for Modeling Therapist Assistance during Gait Rehabilitation

Description

Robotic assisted devices in gait rehabilitation have not seen penetration into clinical settings proportionate to the developments in this field. A possible reason for this is due to the development and evaluation of these devices from a predominantly engineering perspective.

Robotic assisted devices in gait rehabilitation have not seen penetration into clinical settings proportionate to the developments in this field. A possible reason for this is due to the development and evaluation of these devices from a predominantly engineering perspective. One way to mitigate this effect is to further include the principles of neurophysiology into the development of these systems. To further include these principles, this research proposes a method for grounded evaluation of three machine learning algorithms to gain insight on what modeling approaches are able to both replicate therapist assistance and emulate therapist strategies. The algorithms evaluated in this paper include ordinary least squares regression (OLS), gaussian process regression (GPR) and inverse reinforcement learning (IRL). The results show that grounded evaluation is able to provide evidence to support the algorithms at a higher resolution. Also, it was observed that GPR is likely the most accurate algorithm to replicate therapist assistance and to emulate therapist adaptation strategies.

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Date Created
2021