Assistance of repetitive and physically involved rehabilitation exercises through use of robotic devices not only helps eliminate the physical burden of movement therapy for the therapists, but also decreases application related costs. Moreover, robot mediated rehabilitation therapy allows quantitative measurements of patient progress and can be used to realize new treatment protocols. In the literature, beneficial effects of robot assisted rehabilitation over conventional therapy have been shown through clinical trials. In this project, development and testing of a robot assisted rehabilitation system for treatment of upper extremity motor dysfunction secondary to neurological problems is proposed. The project involves a) design and manufacturing of powered exoskeletons to assist forearm and wrist rotations, b) derivation and implementation of bilateral control techniques, c) synthesis of bilateral and tele-operated control/assistance methods that will allow users to practice self-induced therapy through use of their healthy arms, and d) design of human subject experiments to test efficacy of the developed assistance methodologies. The primal novelty of the proposed project comes form the system design that allows bilateral and teleoperated assistance schemes. The design is aimed to serve as an investigation and development platform for new treatment and assessment techniques while also being capable of implementing conventional treatments. A self-assisted therapy concept is proposed that has the potential to have a profound and lasting influence the way rehabilitation therapies are delivered. Targeting the distal parts of upper extremities, the proposed bilateral system is first of its kind in the literature. Moreover, the proposed exoskeleton has a novel parallel kinematic structure that allows independent control and monitoring of wrist rotations about a specified axis.
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