Design Method for a Reconfigurable Mechanism for Finger Rehabilitation

D. Sands, A. Perez Gracia, J. McCormack, and E.T. Wolbrecht (USA)


Rehabilitation robotics, design optimization, mechanismdesign


This paper presents a design method for a reconfigurable single degree-of-freedom mechanism for robotic assisted finger therapy following a stroke. The mechanism is a four-bar linkage that in combination with variable link lengths is capable of reproducing a power grasp finger motion for a wide variety of finger sizes. This is accomplished through an optimization procedure that determines the parameters of the four-bar linkage needed to fit the sampled range of finger trajectories. The linkage is located behind the hand and attaches to the medial phalanx of the finger just above the distal interphalangeal joint. In addition, the mechanism is designed so that it does not interfere with finger motion and so that the subject‘s fingertips and palm are free to touch real objects and experience tactile feedback. In future implementations, the mechanism could be used for a single finger or in parallel with other similar mechanisms to exercise multiple fingers simultaneously. Although the specific application presented here is the four-bar mechanism and finger power grasp motion, the developed design methods may be applied to a much broader range of mechanisms and applications where scalability for human-machine interface is required.

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