University of Hertfordshire

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Original languageEnglish
Article number102
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2013


Rehabilitation robotics is progressing towards developing robots that can be used as advanced tools to augment the role of a therapist. Rehabilitation robots are capable of not only offering more frequent and more accessible therapies but also providing new insights into treatment effectiveness. A requirement for having more advanced therapies is to identify how robots can ‘adapt’ to each individual’s needs at different stages of recovery. Hence, our research focused on developing an adaptive interface for the GENTLE/A rehabilitation system. The interface was based on a lead-lag performance model utilising the interaction between the human and the robot. The goal of the present study was to test the adaptability of the GENTLE/A system to the performance of the user.
Methods: Point-to-point movements were executed using the HapticMaster (HM) robotic arm, the main component of the GENTLE/A rehabilitation system. The points were displayed as balls on the monitor and some of the points also had a real object, providing a test-bed for the human-robot interaction (HRI) experiment. The HM was operated in three modes to test the adaptability of the GENTLE/A system based on the leading/lagging performance of the user. Thirty-two healthy participants took part in the experiment comprising of a training phase followed by the actual-performance phase.
Results: The lead-lag performance of the participant could be used successfully to adjust the duration required by that participant to execute point-to-point movements, in various modes of robot operation and under various conditions. The adaptability of the GENTLE/A system was clearly evident from the durations recorded. The regression results showed that the participants required lower execution times with help from a real object when compared to just a virtual object. The reaching movements were longer to execute when compared to the returning movements irrespective of the influence of the gravity on the direction of the movement.
Conclusions: The GENTLE/A system was able to adapt so that the duration required to execute point-to-point movement was according to the leading or lagging performance of the user with respect to the robot. This adaptability could be useful in the clinical settings when stroke subjects interact with the system and could also serve as an assessment parameter across various interaction sessions. As the system adapts to user input, and as the task becomes easier through practice, the robot would auto-tune for more demanding and challenging
interactions. The improvement in performance of the participants in an embedded environment when compared to a virtual environment also shows promise for clinical applicability, to be tested in due time. Studying the
physiology of upper arm to understand the muscle groups involved, and their influence on various movements executed during this study forms a key part of our future work


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