McArm: Motion controlled arm support

Involved People
Bob van NinhuijsPhD student
dr. ir. B.L.J. GysenCo-promotor
dr. ir. J.W. JansenCo-promotor
Prof. dr. E.A. Lomonova, M.Sc.First promotor

Impairments of the upper limbs caused by neuromuscular diseases and aging affect a large number of people, so that they become more dependent on the caregivers. Most of the commercially available electromechanical assistive devices that can compensate for movement impairment are most of the time mechanical devices that are completely taking over the functions of the affected limbs without supporting and enhancing the still existent functions of the limbs. Among the assistive devices, arm supports are an important class of assistive devices, since they provide support in most of the daily routine activities. Since the commercially available arm supports have still some restrictions and limited functionality, this projects aims at the design of a novel armrest allowing most of the daily living activities.

The smart armrest should be placed on a conventional wheel chair and it should provide both enhancement and training of the still existent arm functions and in the same time it should be light weighed, easy to use, cheap, flexible and energy efficient. Such a smart system requires an optimal combination of passive and active actuation and sensing strategies resulting in flexible, programmable and easy to control (via user friendly interfaces) actuation and sensing to provide the necessary gravity compensation and the realization of the human arm movements using the still existent arm functions in an optimal manner.

Besides the facilitation of the daily living activities, the novel armrest should also be used for ambulatory training and rehabilitation purposes both in a rehabilitation center and in the home environment. So, the system can provide a solution for independent living of impaired persons and for rehabilitation at home of the upper limb functions.