A Workshop proposal on

Keynote Speakers

Prof. Bram Vanderborght
Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Brussel, Belgium
“Title: Design of the actuators of the BIOMOT exoskeleton”
Abstract: The actuator technology suitable for compliant performance in Wearable Robots is investigated in the BioMot Project. The design of actuator structures for the required flexibility and adaptability for a gait rehabilitation condition for spinal cord injured subjects is presented. The implemented solutions to develop compliant actuators for the lower limb joints are presented. Integration of these structures with innovative interfaces with the human sensory-motor system are discussed

Prof. José L. PONS
CSIC, Spain
“Title: Biomechanical and neuromotor interactions in Wearable Robotics: a clinical perspective”
Abstract: The following key features of human walking need to be captured if a human-like, wearable robot supported gait is desired: exploitation of system dynamics and self-stabilizing effects; a hierarchical motor control structure where upper levels (CNS in humans) modulate lower motor mechanisms (SMP and RM in humans); natural gait emerging as a combination of feed-forward and feedback control which is closely related to the mechanics and actuation of the biped; stabilization of passive dynamics by means of reflex actions, these including local reflexes (sensory input affect only spatially related joints and actuators) and supraspinal postural reflexes (requiring whole-body sensory information); the gait cycle can be divided in phases which are bilaterally synchronised; and multiple sensory input are weighted and fused depending on the environmental context and walking phase. In pathological subjects, wearable robots can be used to supplement human strength and to provide alternative means for supporting locomotion. The addition of an artificial mechanical, multi-body robotics structure alongside human limbs will result in altered passive dynamics of lower limbs, in dissipative mechanisms due to non-backdrivable actuation systems and in interaction forces that will be transmitted to the musculoskeletal system through soft tissues. All these factors are likely to result in non-human like operation of the system. This talk will elabore on how all these aspects would affect motor recovery in rehabilitation with WRs

Prof. Kyujin CHO
Seoul National University, Korea
“Title: Exo-Glove Poly: Soft wearable robot for the hand”
Abstract: Many SCI patients lose not only their ability to walk, but also their ability to grasp. Regaining hand function is important for a person with disability to live an independent life; to be able to drink, eat and open doors without the help of others. However, people with disability also want the assistive device to be lightweight, compact and easy to use in their everyday life. SNU Biorobotics Lab has been working towards developing a wearable robot for the hand that could assist people with hand disability with a lightweight and compact design, but mainting the important function of being able to grasp various objects. Exo-Glove Poly is a tendon driven, polymer based wearable robot for the hand. The polymer based design allows the device to be washed with water for sanitization and used by mulitple users in a hospital. Various design features and fabrication processes that were developed to enable this tendon-driven polymer based lightweight design will be presented.

University of Siena, Italy
“Title: The Robotic Sixth Finger: a wearable extra limb to compensate hand function in chronic post stroke patient”
Abstract: I will introduce a novel wearable robotic extra finger used by chronic stroke patients to compensate for the missing hand functions of the paretic limb. The robotic extra finger is worn on the paretic forearm by means of an elastic band, and acts with the paretic limb as the two parts of a gripper working together to firmly hold an object. Qualitative experiments will be presented to validate the approach with a chronic post-stroke patient presenting a partial loss of sensitivity on the paretic limb.

Dr. Shingo SHIMODA
Intelligent Behavior Control Collaboration Unit, RIKEN, Japan
“Title: Walking support of semi-spinal cord injury patients by lower-limb exoskeleton robot”
Abstract: One of the most important factors for behavior supports of motion impairment patients by exoskeleton robots is the synchronization of the robot motions with the wearers' motion intentions. Our approach for the synchronization is the robot controller design based on the biological control principles. We focus on the two features of the biological control systems for designing the controller. One is the signal processing architecture called bow-tie structure. The other is the learning algorithm called tacit learning to adapt the behaviors to the environment through body/environment interactions. We designed the exoskeleton robot controller based on the two features and applied it for the walking support using the lower-limb exoskeleton robot H2. The experimental and simulation results showed that the proposed system can support the walking of semi-spinal cord injury patients.

Prof. Ashish DESHPANDE
University of Texas, USA
“Title: Harmony and Maestro: Two Robots for Upper-limb Rehabilitation”
Abstract: In the ReNeu Robotics Lab at The University of Texas at Austin we are building robots for rehabilitation, prosthetics, and assistive applications. Over the last five years, we have designed and built two sophisticated robots for rehabilitation: Harmony, an upper-body exoskeleton and Maestro, a hand exoskeleton. Achieving the natural motions of complex human joints is a significant design challenge. Our design innovations have resulted in exoskeletons that move a large number of joints (e.g., shoulders, arms, wrists, and fingers) through their natural motions during a wide range of dynamic movement tasks, while simultaneously providing both position and force control. Harmony’s design (14 powered joints, five for each shoulder and two for each arm) allows for the full range of bilateral shoulder and arm movement. At each joint, it has a force controllable actuator with a DC motor and harmonic drive transmission, and also position and torque sensors. A key feature of Harmony is the ability to move the subject’s shoulder through the complex scapulohumeral rhythm (SHR), which is essential for joint stability and shoulder rehabilitation. We have started experiments with stroke subjects and our results suggest that Harmony is effective in delivering a wide range of therapy modalities including varied levels of joint motions, speed, workload, and assistance. In Maestro we have designed novel mechanisms, involving an intricate arrangement of rotating and sliding joints, for moving the subject’s hand through natural joint motions. Further, we use a unique transmission system, involving a natural tendon-sheath arrangement and compliant elements, to achieve force and position control at each joint. These design features open up possibilities for robotic hand-wrist therapy that is currently not available with existing therapy devices, such as the ability to move through large ranges of hand motions while precisely controlling assistance specific to a subject. Ongoing work involves experiments with stroke and SCI patients to examine the effectiveness of the current device in delivering therapy.

Dr. Simona CREA
BioRobotics Institute, Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna, Italy
“Title: An upper-limb exoskeleton for robotic rehabilitation and movement assistance”
Abstract: Wearable robots for movement assistance and rehabilitation must be able to establish a cooperative interaction with the users in order to be effective. At this aim, in the last years several researchers invested a huge amount of resources on the development of novel designs of series-elastic actuators, as a solution to address high-density, low-output parasitic impedance torque generators. This presentation will introduce the investigations carried out at The BioRobotics Institute of Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna to develop upper-, lower-limb and hand exoskeletal machines endowed with a novel design of series-elastic actuation based the use of scalable design of the elastic element.