Date of Award

Spring 2013

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Biomedical Engineering - (M.S.)

Department

Biomedical Engineering

First Advisor

Richard A. Foulds

Second Advisor

Sergei Adamovich

Third Advisor

Max Roman

Abstract

Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD), a neuromuscular disease with a prevalence of 1 in 3500 male births, results in characteristic muscle weakness which is progressive with age and leads to loss of independence. And, in this population, maintaining optimal quality of life depends on the preservation of self-sufficiency. Despite the loss of function, non-ambulant people with DMD retain some muscle strength, just not sufficient strength to overcome the force of gravity. There are a number of upper-limb passive and active orthotic devices that attempt to augment the loss of upper limb function in people with DMD by taking advantage of this residual muscle strength by providing anti-gravity assistance. The majority of these devices, as well as currently available robotic manipulators, are considerably limited in the functionality that they provide, rendering them obtrusive and unaccommodating, resulting in lack of use by this population.

This thesis presents the design of a novel upper limb assistive robotic device. This design involves the use of admittance control as the interface for the intelligent Assist Robot Manipulator (iARM). A thorough qualitative and quantitative analysis of the prototype is performed, the results of which are presented. The quantitative analysis focuses on the ideal delay that is required of human-machine interfaces to ensure comfort and passivity. Additionally, potential contributors to the delay of the iARM are investigated.

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