Date of Award

Summer 2005

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

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

Department

Biomedical Engineering

First Advisor

Sergei Adamovich

Second Advisor

Richard A. Foulds

Third Advisor

Stanley S. Reisman

Abstract

In this research, the Haptic Master robotic arm and virtual environments are used to induce motor learning in subjects with no known musculoskeletal or neurological disorders. It is found in this research that both perception and performance of the subject are increased through the haptic and visual feedback delivered through the Haptic Master. These system benefits may be extended to enhance therapies for patients with loss of motor skills due to neurological disease or brain injury.

Force and visual feedback were manipulated within virtual environment scenarios to facilitate learning. In one force feedback condition, the subject is required to maneuver a sphere through a haptic maze or linear channel. In the second feedback condition, the subject's movement was stopped when the sphere came in contact with the haptic walls. To resume movement, the force vector had to be redirected towards the optimal trajectory. To analyze the efficiency of the various scenarios, the area between the optimal and actual trajectories was used as a measure of learning.

The results from this research demonstrated that within more complex environments one type of force feedback was more successful in facilitating motor learning. In a simpler environment, two out of three subjects experienced a higher degree of motor learning with the same type of force feedback. Learning is not enhanced with the presence of visual feedback. Also, in nearly all studied cases, the primary limitation to learning is shoulder and attention fatigue brought on by the experimentation.

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