AssistOn-Finger: An under-actuated finger exoskeleton for robot-assisted tendon therapy
Ertaş, Hakan İsmail and Hocaoğlu, Elif and Patoğlu, Volkan (2014) AssistOn-Finger: An under-actuated finger exoskeleton for robot-assisted tendon therapy. Robotica, 32 (8). pp. 1363-1382. ISSN 0263-5747 (Print) 1469-8668 (Online)
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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0263574714001957
We present AssistOn-Finger, a novel under-actuated active exoskeleton for robot-assisted tendon therapy of human fingers. The primary use for the exoskeleton is to assist flexion/extension motions of a finger within its full range, while decreasing voluntary muscle contractions helping to keep the tendon tension levels to stay within acceptable limits, avoiding gap formation or rupture of the suture. The device can also be employed to administer range of motion (RoM)/strengthening exercises. AssistOn-Finger is designed to be passively back-driveable, can cover the whole RoM of patients, and can do so in a natural and coordinated manner. In particular, the device employs human finger as an integral part of its kinematics and when coupled to a human operator, the parallel kinematic structure of exoskeleton supports three independent degrees of freedom, dictated by the kinematics of the human finger. Automatically aligning its joint axes to match finger joint axes, AssistOn-Finger can guarantee ergonomy and comfort throughout the therapy. The self-aligning feature also significantly shortens the setup time required to attach the patient to the exoskeleton. We present the kinematic type selection for the exoskeleton to satisfy the design requirements for tendon therapy applications, detail optimal dimensional synthesis of the device considering trade-offs between multiple design criteria and discuss implementation details of the exoskeleton. We also present feasibility studies conducted on healthy volunteers and provide statistical evidence on the efficacy of exoskeleton driven exercises in keeping the average muscle recruitment and the maximum tendon tension levels as low as human guided therapies.
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