Matching Items (97)

127825-Thumbnail Image.png

Soft Robotic Haptic Interface with Variable Stiffness for Rehabilitation of Neurologically Impaired Hand Function

Description

The human hand comprises complex sensorimotor functions that can be impaired by neurological diseases and traumatic injuries. Effective rehabilitation can bring the impaired hand back to a functional state because

The human hand comprises complex sensorimotor functions that can be impaired by neurological diseases and traumatic injuries. Effective rehabilitation can bring the impaired hand back to a functional state because of the plasticity of the central nervous system to relearn and remodel the lost synapses in the brain. Current rehabilitation therapies focus on strengthening motor skills, such as grasping, employ multiple objects of varying stiffness so that affected persons can experience a wide range of strength training. These devices have limited range of stiffness due to the rigid mechanisms employed in their variable stiffness actuators. This paper presents a novel soft robotic haptic device for neuromuscular rehabilitation of the hand, which is designed to offer adjustable stiffness and can be utilized in both clinical and home settings. The device eliminates the need for multiple objects by employing a pneumatic soft structure made with highly compliant materials that act as the actuator of the haptic interface. It is made with interchangeable sleeves that can be customized to include materials of varying stiffness to increase the upper limit of the stiffness range. The device is fabricated using existing 3D printing technologies, and polymer molding and casting techniques, thus keeping the cost low and throughput high. The haptic interface is linked to either an open-loop system that allows for an increased pressure during usage or closed-loop system that provides pressure regulation in accordance to the stiffness the user specifies. Preliminary evaluation is performed to characterize the effective controllable region of variance in stiffness. It was found that the region of controllable stiffness was between points 3 and 7, where the stiffness appeared to plateau with each increase in pressure. The two control systems are tested to derive relationships between internal pressure, grasping force exertion on the surface, and displacement using multiple probing points on the haptic device. Additional quantitative evaluation is performed with study participants and juxtaposed to a qualitative analysis to ensure adequate perception in compliance variance. The qualitative evaluation showed that greater than 60% of the trials resulted in the correct perception of stiffness in the haptic device.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2017-12-20

127855-Thumbnail Image.png

On the Role of Physical Interaction on Performance of Object Manipulation by Dyads

Description

Human physical interactions can be intrapersonal, e.g., manipulating an object bimanually, or interpersonal, e.g., transporting an object with another person. In both cases, one or two agents are required to

Human physical interactions can be intrapersonal, e.g., manipulating an object bimanually, or interpersonal, e.g., transporting an object with another person. In both cases, one or two agents are required to coordinate their limbs to attain the task goal. We investigated the physical coordination of two hands during an object-balancing task performed either bimanually by one agent or jointly by two agents. The task consisted of a series of static (holding) and dynamic (moving) phases, initiated by auditory cues. We found that task performance of dyads was not affected by different pairings of dominant and non-dominant hands. However, the spatial configuration of the two agents (side-by-side vs. face-to-face) appears to play an important role, such that dyads performed better side-by-side than face-to-face. Furthermore, we demonstrated that only individuals with worse solo performance can benefit from interpersonal coordination through physical couplings, whereas the better individuals do not. The present work extends ongoing investigations on human-human physical interactions by providing new insights about factors that influence dyadic performance. Our findings could potentially impact several areas, including robotic-assisted therapies, sensorimotor learning and human performance augmentation.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2017-11-07

127888-Thumbnail Image.png

Improving Fine Control of Grasping Force during Hand–Object Interactions for a Soft Synergy-Inspired Myoelectric Prosthetic Hand

Description

The concept of postural synergies of the human hand has been shown to potentially reduce complexity in the neuromuscular control of grasping. By merging this concept with soft robotics approaches,

The concept of postural synergies of the human hand has been shown to potentially reduce complexity in the neuromuscular control of grasping. By merging this concept with soft robotics approaches, a multi degrees of freedom soft-synergy prosthetic hand [SoftHand-Pro (SHP)] was created. The mechanical innovation of the SHP enables adaptive and robust functional grasps with simple and intuitive myoelectric control from only two surface electromyogram (sEMG) channels. However, the current myoelectric controller has very limited capability for fine control of grasp forces. We addressed this challenge by designing a hybrid-gain myoelectric controller that switches control gains based on the sensorimotor state of the SHP. This controller was tested against a conventional single-gain (SG) controller, as well as against native hand in able-bodied subjects. We used the following tasks to evaluate the performance of grasp force control: (1) pick and place objects with different size, weight, and fragility levels using power or precision grasp and (2) squeezing objects with different stiffness. Sensory feedback of the grasp forces was provided to the user through a non-invasive, mechanotactile haptic feedback device mounted on the upper arm. We demonstrated that the novel hybrid controller enabled superior task completion speed and fine force control over SG controller in object pick-and-place tasks. We also found that the performance of the hybrid controller qualitatively agrees with the performance of native human hands.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2018-01-10

127980-Thumbnail Image.png

Postural Hand Synergies during Environmental Constraint Exploitation

Description

Humans are able to intuitively exploit the shape of an object and environmental constraints to achieve stable grasps and perform dexterous manipulations. In doing that, a vast range of kinematic

Humans are able to intuitively exploit the shape of an object and environmental constraints to achieve stable grasps and perform dexterous manipulations. In doing that, a vast range of kinematic strategies can be observed. However, in this work we formulate the hypothesis that such ability can be described in terms of a synergistic behavior in the generation of hand postures, i.e., using a reduced set of commonly used kinematic patterns. This is in analogy with previous studies showing the presence of such behavior in different tasks, such as grasping. We investigated this hypothesis in experiments performed by six subjects, who were asked to grasp objects from a flat surface. We quantitatively characterized hand posture behavior from a kinematic perspective, i.e., the hand joint angles, in both pre-shaping and during the interaction with the environment. To determine the role of tactile feedback, we repeated the same experiments but with subjects wearing a rigid shell on the fingertips to reduce cutaneous afferent inputs. Results show the persistence of at least two postural synergies in all the considered experimental conditions and phases. Tactile impairment does not alter significantly the first two synergies, and contact with the environment generates a change only for higher order Principal Components. A good match also arises between the first synergy found in our analysis and the first synergy of grasping as quantified by previous work. The present study is motivated by the interest of learning from the human example, extracting lessons that can be applied in robot design and control. Thus, we conclude with a discussion on implications for robotics of our findings.

Contributors

Created

Date Created
  • 2017-08-29

128289-Thumbnail Image.png

Digit Position and Forces Covary during Anticipatory Control of Whole-Hand Manipulation

Description

Theoretical perspectives on anticipatory planning of object manipulation have traditionally been informed by studies that have investigated kinematics (hand shaping and digit position) and kinetics (forces) in isolation. This poses

Theoretical perspectives on anticipatory planning of object manipulation have traditionally been informed by studies that have investigated kinematics (hand shaping and digit position) and kinetics (forces) in isolation. This poses limitations on our understanding of the integration of such domains, which have recently been shown to be strongly interdependent. Specifically, recent studies revealed strong covariation of digit position and load force during the loading phase of two-digit grasping. Here, we determined whether such digit force-position covariation is a general feature of grasping. We investigated the coordination of digit position and forces during five-digit whole-hand manipulation of an object with a variable mass distribution. Subjects were instructed to prevent object roll during the lift. As found in precision grasping, there was strong trial-to-trial covariation of digit position and force. This suggests that the natural variation of digit position that is compensated for by trial-to-trial variation in digit forces is a fundamental feature of grasp control, and not only specific to precision grasp. However, a main difference with precision grasping was that modulation of digit position to the object’s mass distribution was driven predominantly by the thumb, with little to no modulation of finger position. Modulation of thumb position rather than fingers is likely due to its greater range of motion and therefore adaptability to object properties. Our results underscore the flexibility of the central nervous system in implementing a range of solutions along the digit force-to-position continuum for dexterous manipulation.

Contributors

Created

Date Created
  • 2016-09-15

128364-Thumbnail Image.png

Communication and Inference of Intended Movement Direction during Human–Human Physical Interaction

Description

Of particular interest to the neuroscience and robotics communities is the understanding of how two humans could physically collaborate to perform motor tasks such as holding a tool or moving

Of particular interest to the neuroscience and robotics communities is the understanding of how two humans could physically collaborate to perform motor tasks such as holding a tool or moving it across locations. When two humans physically interact with each other, sensory consequences and motor outcomes are not entirely predictable as they also depend on the other agent’s actions. The sensory mechanisms involved in physical interactions are not well understood. The present study was designed (1) to quantify human–human physical interactions where one agent (“follower”) has to infer the intended or imagined—but not executed—direction of motion of another agent (“leader”) and (2) to reveal the underlying strategies used by the dyad. This study also aimed at verifying the extent to which visual feedback (VF) is necessary for communicating intended movement direction. We found that the control of leader on the relationship between force and motion was a critical factor in conveying his/her intended movement direction to the follower regardless of VF of the grasped handle or the arms. Interestingly, the dyad’s ability to communicate and infer movement direction with significant accuracy improved (>83%) after a relatively short amount of practice. These results indicate that the relationship between force and motion (interpreting as arm impedance modulation) may represent an important means for communicating intended movement direction between biological agents, as indicated by the modulation of this relationship to intended direction. Ongoing work is investigating the application of the present findings to optimize communication of high-level movement goals during physical interactions between biological and non-biological agents.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2017-04-13

128742-Thumbnail Image.png

Visual Cues of Object Properties Differentially Affect Anticipatory Planning of Digit Forces and Placement

Description

Studies on anticipatory planning of object manipulation showed initial task failure (i.e., object roll) when visual object shape cues are incongruent with other visual cues, such as weight distribution/density (e.g.,

Studies on anticipatory planning of object manipulation showed initial task failure (i.e., object roll) when visual object shape cues are incongruent with other visual cues, such as weight distribution/density (e.g., symmetrically shaped object with an asymmetrical density). This suggests that shape cues override density cues. However, these studies typically only measured forces, with digit placement constrained. Recent evidence suggests that when digit placement is unconstrained, subjects modulate digit forces and placement. Thus, unconstrained digit placement might be modulated on initial trials (since it is an explicit process), but not forces (since it is an implicit process). We tested whether shape and density cues would differentially influence anticipatory planning of digit placement and forces during initial trials of a two-digit object manipulation task. Furthermore, we tested whether shape cues would override density cues when cues are incongruent. Subjects grasped and lifted an object with the aim of preventing roll. In Experiment 1, the object was symmetrically shaped, but with asymmetrical density (incongruent cues). In Experiment 2, the object was asymmetrical in shape and density (congruent cues). In Experiment 3, the object was asymmetrically shaped, but with symmetrical density (incongruent cues). Results showed differential modulation of digit placement and forces (modulation of load force but not placement), but only when shape and density cues were congruent. When shape and density cues were incongruent, we found collinear digit placement and symmetrical force sharing. This suggests that congruent and incongruent shape and density cues differentially influence anticipatory planning of digit forces and placement. Furthermore, shape cues do not always override density cues. A continuum of visual cues, such as those alluding to shape and density, need to be integrated.

Contributors

Created

Date Created
  • 2016-04-21

128709-Thumbnail Image.png

Ereptiospiration

Description

Pure coconut oil, lanolin, and acetaminophen were vaporized at rates of 1–50 mg/min, using a porous network exhibiting a temperature gradient from 5000 to 5500 K/mm, without incurring noticeable chemical

Pure coconut oil, lanolin, and acetaminophen were vaporized at rates of 1–50 mg/min, using a porous network exhibiting a temperature gradient from 5000 to 5500 K/mm, without incurring noticeable chemical changes due to combustion, oxidation, or other thermally-induced chemical structural changes. The newly coined term “ereptiospiration” is used here to describe this combination of thermal transpiration at high temperature gradients since the process can force the creation of thermal aerosols by rapid heating in a localized zone. Experimental data were generated for these materials using two different supports for metering the materials to the battery powered coil: namely, a stainless steel fiber bundle and a 3-D printed steel cartridge. Heating coconut oil, lanolin, or acetaminophen in a beaker to lower temperatures than those achieved at the surface of the coil showed noticeable and rapid degradation in the samples, while visual and olfactory observations for ereptiospiration showed no noticeable degradation in lanolin and coconut oil while HPLC chromatograms along with visual observation confirm that within the limit of detection, acetaminophen remains chemically unaltered by ereptiospiration.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2017-04-12

128483-Thumbnail Image.png

A synergy-based hand control is encoded in human motor cortical areas

Description

How the human brain controls hand movements to carry out different tasks is still debated. The concept of synergy has been proposed to indicate functional modules that may simplify the

How the human brain controls hand movements to carry out different tasks is still debated. The concept of synergy has been proposed to indicate functional modules that may simplify the control of hand postures by simultaneously recruiting sets of muscles and joints. However, whether and to what extent synergic hand postures are encoded as such at a cortical level remains unknown. Here, we combined kinematic, electromyography, and brain activity measures obtained by functional magnetic resonance imaging while subjects performed a variety of movements towards virtual objects. Hand postural information, encoded through kinematic synergies, were represented in cortical areas devoted to hand motor control and successfully discriminated individual grasping movements, significantly outperforming alternative somatotopic or muscle-based models. Importantly, hand postural synergies were predicted by neural activation patterns within primary motor cortex. These findings support a novel cortical organization for hand movement control and open potential applications for brain-computer interfaces and neuroprostheses.

Contributors

Created

Date Created
  • 2016-02-15

128606-Thumbnail Image.png

Assessment of Myoelectric Controller Performance and Kinematic Behavior of a Novel Soft Synergy-Inspired Robotic Hand for Prosthetic Applications

Description

Myoelectric artificial limbs can significantly advance the state of the art in prosthetics, since they can be used to control mechatronic devices through muscular activity in a way that mimics

Myoelectric artificial limbs can significantly advance the state of the art in prosthetics, since they can be used to control mechatronic devices through muscular activity in a way that mimics how the subjects used to activate their muscles before limb loss. However, surveys indicate that dissatisfaction with the functionality of terminal devices underlies the widespread abandonment of prostheses. We believe that one key factor to improve acceptability of prosthetic devices is to attain human likeness of prosthesis movements, a goal which is being pursued by research on social and human–robot interactions. Therefore, to reduce early abandonment of terminal devices, we propose that controllers should be designed so as to ensure effective task accomplishment in a natural fashion. In this work, we have analyzed and compared the performance of three types of myoelectric controller algorithms based on surface electromyography to control an underactuated and multi-degrees of freedom prosthetic hand, the SoftHand Pro. The goal of the present study was to identify the myoelectric algorithm that best mimics the native hand movements. As a preliminary step, we first quantified the repeatability of the SoftHand Pro finger movements and identified the electromyographic recording sites for able-bodied individuals with the highest signal-to-noise ratio from two pairs of muscles, i.e., flexor digitorum superficialis/extensor digitorum communis, and flexor carpi radialis/extensor carpi ulnaris. Able-bodied volunteers were then asked to execute reach-to-grasp movements, while electromyography signals were recorded from flexor digitorum superficialis/extensor digitorum communis as this was identified as the muscle pair characterized by high signal-to-noise ratio and intuitive control. Subsequently, we tested three myoelectric controllers that mapped electromyography signals to position of the SoftHand Pro. We found that a differential electromyography-to-position mapping ensured the highest coherence with hand movements. Our results represent a first step toward a more effective and intuitive control of myoelectric hand prostheses.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2016-10-17