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A Series-elastic Robot for Back-pain Rehabilitation

ElHussein Shata, Kim-Doang Nguyen*, Praneel Acharya, and Jeffrey Doom
International Journal of Control, Automation, and Systems, vol. 19, no. 2, pp.1054-1064, 2021

Abstract : This paper addresses the robot-assisted rehabilitation of back pain, an epidemic health problem affecting a large portion of the population. The design is composed of two springs in series connected to an end-effector via a pair of antagonistic cables. The spring and cable arrangement forms an elastic coupling from the actuator to the output shaft. An input-output torque model of the series-elastic mechanism is established and studied numerically. The study also illustrates the variation of the mechanism’s effective stiffness by changing the springs’ position. In addition, we built a prototype of the robotic mechanism and design experiments with a robotic manipulator to experimentally investigate its dynamic characteristics. The experimental results confirm the predicted elasticity between the input motion and the output torque at the end-effector. We also observe an agreement between the data generated by the torque model and data collected from the experiments. An experiment with a full-scale robot and a human subject is carried out to investigate the human-robot interaction and the mechanism behavior.

Keyword : Back-pain rehabilitation, experimental validation, torque models, variable stiffness actuators

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