a1 Intelligent Robots and Systems Lab, School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and ReCAPT, Gyeongsang National University, Jinju, South Korea
a2 Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, Gyeongsang National University Hospital, Jinju, South Korea
It is important to develop a robotic orthosis or exoskeleton that can provide back-drivable and good assistive performances with lightweight structures for overground gait rehabilitation of stroke patients. In this paper, we describe a robotic knee device with a five-bar linkage to allow low-impedance voluntary knee motion within a specified rotation range during the swing phase, and to assist knee extension during the stance phase. The device can provide free motion through the five-bar linkage with 2-degree-of-freedom (DOF) actuation via the patient's shank using a linear actuator, and can assist knee extension at any controlled knee angle while bearing weight via a geared five-bar linkage with 1 DOF actuation of the linear actuator. The kinematic transition between the two modes can be implemented by contact with a circular structure and a linear link, and the resultant range of motion can be determined by the linear actuator. The kinematic weight of the device was optimized using the simple genetic algorithm to reduce the mass. The optimization cost function was based on the sum of the total link lengths and the actuator power. The optimization results reduced the total link length and motor power by 47% and 43%, respectively, compared to the initial design. We expect that the device will facilitate rehabilitation of stroke patients by allowing safe and free overground walking while providing support for stumbling.
(Accepted May 12 2014)
(Online publication June 13 2014)