Abstract

Designing a mechanism for elbow self-axis alignment requires the elimination of undesirable joint motion and tissue elasticity. The novelty of this work lies in proposing a double layered interface using a 3-PRR planar parallel mechanism as a solution to the axis alignment problem. 3-PRR planar parallel mechanisms are suitable candidates to solve this as they can span the desired workspace in a relatively compact size. In this paper, we present the modeling, design, prototyping and validation of the double-layered elbow exoskeleton interface for axis self-alignment. The desired workspace for the self-axis alignment mechanism is specified based on the estimated maximum possible misalignment between the exoskeleton joint and the human anatomical elbow joint. Kinematic parameters of the 3-PRR planar mechanism are identified by formulating an optimization problem. The goal is to find the smallest mechanism that can span the specified workspace. The orientation angle of the mechanism's plane addresses the frontal frustum vertex angel of the elbow's joint, while the transnational motion allows the transnational offsets between the user's elbow and the exoskeleton joint. The designed exoskeleton axis can passively rotate around the frontal plane ±15 degrees and translate along the workspace 30 mm in the frontal plane. Experimental results (quantitative and qualitative) confirmed the capability of the proposed exoskeleton in addressing the complex elbow motion, user's satisfaction and ergonomics.

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