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Design of a Wearable 3-DOF Forearm Exoskeleton for Rehabilitation and Assistive Purposes

[+] Author Affiliations
Junghee Lee, Pinhas Ben-Tzvi

Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA

Paper No. IMECE2017-71883, pp. V003T04A078; 10 pages
  • ASME 2017 International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition
  • Volume 3: Biomedical and Biotechnology Engineering
  • Tampa, Florida, USA, November 3–9, 2017
  • Conference Sponsors: ASME
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-5836-3
  • Copyright © 2017 by ASME


This paper presents the design and analysis of a portable forearm exoskeleton designed for rehabilitation and assistive purposes (FE.RAP). The design uses a direct-drive mechanism to actuate three degrees of freedom (DOFs) of the wrist, including: (1) wrist flexion and extension, (2) wrist radial and ulnar deviation, and (3) forearm supination and pronation. In recent decades, automated at-home recovery therapies have emerged as popular alternatives to hospital-based rehabilitation. Often in the case of lower arm rehabilitation, however, existing exoskeletons are not practical to use as home rehabilitation devices due to being non-transportable, bulky in size, and heavy in weight. In addition, compact sized exoskeletons often lack sufficient DOFs to mirror the natural movements of the hand. This paper proposes a design that addresses the drawbacks of current exoskeletons. The FE.RAP is designed to be portable and lightweight, while maintaining sufficient DOFs to help patients recover the range of motion needed by the wrist and forearm to support activities of daily living (ADL). Along with the design, the paper presents an analysis used to optimize the workspace for each DOF of the system. A kinematic analysis is performed to validate and compare the workspace of the system, as well as the coupling relationship between the DOFs, to that of the human hand and wrist. Finally, the torque required to support most ADLs is determined using static and dynamic analyses.

Copyright © 2017 by ASME



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