Robotic neurorehabilitation is a rapidly growing field in both research and industry. Robotics offer the ability to create less labor-intensive rehabilitation for therapists, while providing an interactive experience for patients. Furthermore, the ability to implement assistive robotic therapy in the home setting has the potential to increase the frequency of patient rehabilitation sessions while decreasing the overall cost of therapy. Therefore, the design, control, and initial testing of an actuated 2 degree of freedom hand rehabilitation device is presented.
A 2 degree of freedom hand rehabilitation device, named the Navigator, is mechanically capable of assistive or resistive mode exercise for flexion and extension of the fingers, as well as pronation and supination of the wrist. A series elastic actuator incorporating a rack and pinion provides actuation to flexion and extension of the fingers. A belt drive is used to provide actuation to pronation and supination of the wrist. Position and load sensors are integrated into both actuators to provide feedback for the control system.
The implementation of an impedance control system utilizing position, force, and torque feedback is also presented. Automated control results as well as preliminary pilot data of resistive mode exercises are presented. The impedance controller interacts with a virtual environment. Preliminary results of the controller confirm the efficacy of the device’s mechanical design.