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Improved Elliptical Trainer Biomechanics Using a Modified Cardan Gear

[+] Author Affiliations
Carl A. Nelson

University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, NE

Judith M. Burnfield

Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital, Lincoln, NE

Paper No. DETC2012-70439, pp. 35-42; 8 pages
  • ASME 2012 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers and Information in Engineering Conference
  • Volume 4: 36th Mechanisms and Robotics Conference, Parts A and B
  • Chicago, Illinois, USA, August 12–15, 2012
  • Conference Sponsors: Design Engineering Division, Computers and Information in Engineering Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-4503-5
  • Copyright © 2012 by ASME


Although many different kinematic structures have been employed in the design of elliptical machines for exercise and fitness, these devices in general do not produce pedal paths that promote lower extremity kinematics similar to overground gait. This is unfortunate given the growing interest in using these devices as a gait rehabilitation tool. In this paper, we present a novel design strategy for elliptical machines intended to create a movement profile that more closely simulates the lower extremity kinematics of gait. This involves replacement of the typical crank link with a modified Cardan gear system. Simulations of typical rear-drive (crank-rocker) and front-drive (crank-slider) elliptical designs validate the improvement in lower limb hip and knee kinematics using this approach, suggesting that assistive elliptical rehabilitation systems can be more optimally designed to promote normal lower extremity gait kinematics compared to currently available devices.

Copyright © 2012 by ASME
Topics: Biomechanics , Gears



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