Design Innovations for Rehabilitation and Assistive Robotics

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University of Alabama Libraries

When accelerated aging becomes a major trend all over the world, mobility impairment and the resulted disability are affecting an increasing number of individuals. People’s mobility can be impaired due to a variety of reasons (limb loss, age-related functional decline, neuromuscular pathologies, etc.), but they all face a common set of difficulties in daily life (slow walking speed, difficulty in stair climbing, difficulty in standing up, etc.). Motivated by this increasingly important and challenging problem, research in this dissertation aims at developing multiple robotic assistive and rehabilitation devices with the common purpose of enhancing people’s mobility and physical capacity and enabling them to live a higher-quality, more productive life. The first type of assistive robot in this dissertation, a novel robotic lower-limb prosthesis is presented. This new robotic prosthesis adopts a unique design framework of Common Core Components Knee-Ankle Prosthesis (C3KAP), and thus is able to provide the desired dynamic performance to support healthy human-like walking while significantly reducing the complexity and cost. The second type of assistive device in this dissertation is the Quadrupedal Human-Assistive Robotic Platform (Q-HARP). As a legged assistive robot functioning as a smart walker, the Q-HARP provides an unprecedented potential to adapt to a wide variety of challenging terrains, many of which are common in people’s daily life (e.g., roadside curbs and the few steps leading to a front door). The third type of assistive robot is RailBot, addresses the difficulty in stair climbing. It is a novel rail-sliding robot providing powered assistance in a user’s stair climbing process. With its unique mode of operation and assistance, the compact RailBot system can be installed in almost any homes with stairs and help the large number of elderly residents to age in place. As the final part of this dissertation, Semi-Wearable Sit-to-Stand Assist (SW-SiStA) which provides powered joint assistance to a mobility-challenged individual during the sit-to-stand process. Unlike traditional exoskeletons, this semi-wearable assistive device can be easily detached after the completion of the sit-to-stand process, and thus allows the user to continue the subsequent ambulation without carrying extra weight.

Electronic Thesis or Dissertation
Assistive Robotics, Design Innovations, Disability, Mechanical design, Mobility Impairment, Rehabilitation Robotics