Task-oriented methodology for objective assessment hand rehabilitation with robotics therapy.
Date of Issue2013
School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
Robotics Research Centre
Impairments such as muscle weakness, loss of range of motion, decreased reaction times and disordered movement organization create deficits in motor control, which affect independent living of patients. Rehabilitation robotic systems are then suggested to help the patients in maintaining or improving their independence and to reduce the burden of care on institutions and caregivers. Many clinical methods used are based on subjective and qualitative assessments made by therapists, which highly depends on their experience. Small changes or variations following injury are often undetected. Useful results obtained by clinical groups are not widely-received in the robotics community. The lack of an effective means of communication between the clinical and engineering groups is a major hindrance to any effective rehabilitation process. The main aim of this research is to develop task-oriented methodology for objective assessment of hand rehabilitation with robotics therapy to aid the restoration of hand function of patients experiencing motor weakness and loss of function in the hand. Target users are the elderly and people with an upper-limb motor disability, such as post-stroke and Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) patients. For successful and effective rehabilitation outcomes, it is important to apply engineering knowledge and technology to the improvement and delivery of health services. The research work aims to apply engineering knowledge and technology for improvement and delivery of the clinical application – the hand rehabilitation in this research. It will contribute in closing the knowledge gap of clinical and engineering groups. By adopt an objective approach, the proposed rehabilitation methodology for robotic hand rehabilitation should enhance the programme planning and assessment of hand functionality for effective hand rehabilitation through clinical trials. The work presented in this thesis focuses on the biomechanical model of human hand suitable for targeted patient subjects, the study & analysis of tasks-oriented hand rehabilitation for the key hand movements that are essential for hand functioning in activities of daily living (ADL), and the task-oriented assessment methodology for robotic therapy. The proposed robotic device with “load-free” concept of mechanism design is only one of the solutions for hand-fingers rehabilitation in order to achieve our goal. However, the biomechanical model, analysis of task-specific hand rehabilitation and the task-oriented assessment methodology are also applicable to other robotics devices for hand rehabilitation.