Bio-mechatronic implementation of a portable upper limb rehabilitative exoskeleton.
The rationale behind this research originates from the lack of public health care in South Africa. There is an escalation in the number of stroke victims which is a consequence of the increase in hypertension in this urbanising society. This increase results in a growing need for physiotherapists and occupational therapists in this country which is further hindered by the division between urban and rural areas. The exoskeleton device has been formulated to encapsulate methodologies that enable the anthropomorphic integration between a biological and mechatronic limb. The physiotherapeutic mechanism was designed to be portable and adjustable, without limiting the spherical motion and workspace of the human arm. The exoskeleton was portable in the sense that it could be transported geographically and is a complete device allowing for motion in the shoulder, elbow, wrist and hand joints. The avoidance of singularities in the workspace required the implementation of non-orthogonal joints which produces extensive forward kinematics. Traditional geometric or analytical derivations of the inverse kinematics are complicated by the nonorthogonal layout. This hindrance was resolved iteratively via the Damped Least Squares method. The electronic and computer system allowed for professional personnel, such as an occupational therapist or a physiotherapist, to either change an individual joint or a combination of joints angles. A ramp PI controller was established to provide a smooth response in order to simulate the passive therapy motion.