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Okayama University unveils its first Wrist Rehabilitation Robot
This is a wrist rehabilitation robot developed by a research group at Okayama University for use by people who have suffered strokes or spinal cord injuries.
“This device uses a parallel link structure and a pneumatic cylinder with actuator. The characteristic of the parallel link structure is that the upper side moves in the X, Y and Z-axes, and rotates around the X, Y and Z rotational axes, so it has 6 degrees of freedom.We are thinking of using this robot to perform rehabilitation of peoples’ wrists. The compressibility of air means the manipulators themselves have flexibility and can absorb even a sharp force, so that it works on people with very soft strength, ideal for rehabilitation movement.”
Viscous resistance is the force generated when a hand moves in water. This force, which can be freely set on this robot, increases in proportion to the speed.
“Right now we have set viscous resistance very low, and we can move it lightly like this. So let’s set the viscous resistance to 6.5 times that value. Now, of course, as the viscous resistance has been increased, we can’t move the manipulator without using a lot of force.”
Sensors can also be attached to the muscles of the arm to provide feedback about the wrist movement, when connected to the robot this adds a force feedback element to the system.
“Right now all you feel is the pneumatic resistance, but if you put your hand in and practice, the robot moves in response to the muscle signal, and it can make hard or soft movements.”
The research group are currently focusing on having the robot acquire practice movements. In the future, this robot could be used in addition to or in place of sessions with a physical therapist.
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