Non-linear actuators and simulation tools for rehabilitation devices

Thumbnail Image
Publication date
Defense date
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Google Scholar
Research Projects
Organizational Units
Journal Issue
Rehabilitation robotics is a field of research that investigates the applications of robotics in motor function therapy for recovering the motor control and motor capability. In general, this type of rehabilitation has been found effective in therapy for persons suffering motor disorders, especially due to stroke or spinal cord injuries. This type of devices generally are well tolerated by the patients also being a motivation in rehabilitation therapy. In the last years the rehabilitation robotics has become more popular, capturing the attention at various research centers. They focused on the development more effective devices in rehabilitation therapy, with a higher acceptance factor of patients tacking into account: the financial cost, weight and comfort of the device. Among the rehabilitation devices, an important category is represented by the rehabilitation exoskeletons, which in addition to the human skeletons help to protect and support the external human body. This became more popular between the rehabilitation devices due to the easily adapting with the dynamics of human body, possibility to use them such as wearable devices and low weight and dimensions which permit easy transportation. Nowadays, in the development of any robotic device the simulation tools play an important role due to their capacity to analyse the expected performance of the system designed prior to manufacture. In the development of the rehabilitation devices, the biomechanical software which is capable to simulate the behaviour interaction between the human body and the robotics devices, play an important role. This helps to choose suitable actuators for the rehabilitation device, to evaluate possible mechanical designs, and to analyse the necessary controls algorithms before being tested in real systems. This thesis presents a research proposing an alternative solution for the current systems of actuation on the exoskeletons for robotic rehabilitation. The proposed solution, has a direct impact, improving issues like device weight, noise, fabrication costs, size an patient comfort. In order to reach the desired results, a biomechanical software based on Biomechanics of Bodies (BoB) simulator where the behaviour of the human body and the rehabilitation device with his actuators can be analysed, was developed. In the context of the main objective of this research, a series of actuators have been analysed, including solutions between the non-linear actuation systems. Between these systems, two solutions have been analysed in detail: ultrasonic motors and Shape Memory Alloy material. Due to the force - weight characteristics of each device (in simulation with the human body), the Shape Memory Alloy material was chosen as principal actuator candidate for rehabilitation devices. The proposed control algorithm for the actuators based on Shape Memory Alloy, was tested over various configurations of actuators design and analysed in terms of energy eficiency, cooling deformation and movement. For the bioinspirated movements, such as the muscular group's biceps-triceps, a control algorithm capable to control two Shape Memory Alloy based actuators in antagonistic movement, has been developed. A segmented exoskeleton based on Shape Memory Alloy actuators for the upper limb evaluation and rehabilitation therapy was proposed to demosntrate the eligibility of the actuation system. This is divided in individual rehabilitation devices for the shoulder, elbow and wrist. The results of this research was tested and validated in the real elbow exoskeleton with two degrees of freedom developed during this thesis.
Mención Internacional en el título de doctor
Actuators, Exoskeletons, Rehabilitation robotics, Shape memory alloys, Nonlinear control, Biomecánica, Electrónica de potencia, Control automático, Rehabilitación, Discapacidad física
Bibliographic citation