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The design of a five-degree-of-freedom powered orthosis for the upper limb

Johnson, G.R. and Carus, D. and Parrini, G. and Marchese, S.S. and Valeggi, R. (2001) The design of a five-degree-of-freedom powered orthosis for the upper limb. Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part H: Journal of Engineering in Medicine, 215 (3). pp. 275-284. ISSN 0954-4119

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Abstract

In response to the need for a sophisticated powered upper-limb orthosis for use by people with disabilities and/or limb weakness or injury, the MULOS (motorized upper-limb orthotic system) has been developed. This is a five-degree-of-freedom electrically powered device having three degrees of freedom at the shoulder, one at the elbow and one to provide pronation/supination. The shoulder mechanism consists of a serial linkage having an equivalent centre of rotation close to that of the anatomical shoulder; this is a self-contained module in which power transmission is provided by tensioned cables. The elbow and pronation/supination modules are also self-contained. The system has been designed to operate under three modes of control: 1. As an assistive robot attached directly to the arm to provide controlled movements for people with severe disability. In this case, it can be operated by a variety of control interfaces, including a specially designed five-degree-of-freedom joystick. 2. Continuous passive motion for the therapy of joints after injury. The trajectory of the joints is selected by 'walk-through' programming and can be replayed for a given number of cycles at a chosen speed. 3. As an exercise device to provide strengthening exercises for elderly people or those recovering from injury or surgery. This mode has not been fully implemented at this stage. In assistive mode, prototype testing has demonstrated that the system can provide the movements required for a range of simple tasks and, in continuous passive motion (CPM) mode, the programming system has been successfully implemented. Great attention has been paid to all aspects of safety. Future work is required to identify problems of operation, and to develop new control interfaces.