GUANGFEI DUAN, PHD
Robotic devices can serve as effective tools for people with disabilities and inpatients who are going through rehabilitation therapies. Some promising technologies such as robotic wheelchairs or wearable sensors can help individuals after severe neurologic injuries, by propelling the functional activities of the weak limbs. Though these complex robotic devices have improved the effectiveness of the autonomous rehabilitation exercise, the expensive manufacturing cost makes them impractical for widespread usage. Therefore, instead of developing complex robotic devices, we focus on the design of one degree-of-freedom robotic machines or simple robotic arms that can be attached to the regular rehabilitation devices. The goal of the project is to develop and test simple robotic devices that could provide assistance to rehabilitation exercises for people with weakened fingers, arms or legs after the stroke or brain injury. These robotic arms are designed to mount on regular wheelchairs. The project can be developed in three stages: 1. In the first stage, only the mechanical robotic arms are constructed. Motions of the wheelchair will be initiated by the movement of figures or limbs with a certain motion pattern. Robotic arms will drive the movement of the wheelchair and amplify the motion amplitude through mechanical amplifiers so that the wheelchair will move forward or backward with a sufficiently large distance. In this stage, student trainees will learn the basics of robotic principles and develop skills of constructing simple one degree-of-freedom robotic machines and robotic arms. 2. In the second stage, some electronic devices such as microcontrollers will be installed on the robotic arms so that the patient can control the velocity of the wheelchair through different motion patterns. A variety of motion patterns will be designed so that weakened muscles can frequently involve in active motions. In this stage, Students will develop control algorithms and run simulations of the robots. 3. Finally, the robotic arms with the controllers will be assessed in the pilot tests and they are expected to assist the patients with sufficient and effective rehabilitation exercise, while maintaining a low manufacturing cost. Students will design and conduct pilot tests of the robotic device on the wheelchair to provide an overall assessment.