You are on page 1of 4

2017 International Conference on Engineering Technology and Technopreneurship (ICE2T)

Proc. of the International Conference on Engineering Technologies and Technopreneurship (ICE2T 2017)
18-20 September 2017, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Biomechatronics Design of a Robotic Arm

for Rehabilitation
Abdul Malik Mohd Ali#1, Sabilah Abdul Halim#2, Kushsairi A. Kadir#, Mohd Syahmi Aiman A.R# and Radzi Ambar*3
Department of Electronic and Electrical,
University Kuala Lumpur British Malaysian Institute, Malaysia,

Department of Computer Engineering, Faculty of Electrical and Electronic Engineering,
Universiti Tun Hussein Onn Malaysia, 86400 Parit Raja, Batu Pahat, Malaysia

Abstract— Rehabilitation is an important process to restore electric drives [4-6] or pneumatic systems [7-8]. Perry et al.
muscle strength and joint’s range of motion. This paper proposes developed a cable-driven electric motor powered exoskeleton
a biomechatronic design of a robotic arm that is able to mimic for rehabilitation with SEMG signal as its main inputs [4]. The
the natural movement of the human shoulder, elbow and wrist developed exoskeleton permits seven (7) degree of freedom
joint. In a preliminary experiment, a subject was asked to (DoF) that helps full-workspace range of motion (ROM). Nef
perform four different arm movements using the developed et al. developed an exoskeleton for rehabilitation called ARMin
robotic arm for a period of two weeks. The experimental results II by utilizing DC motors that has 6 active DoF [5]. The work
were recorded and can be plotted into graphical results using showed that the therapy has positive effects on the movement
Matlab. Based on the results, the robotic arm shows encouraging
performance of chronic stroke patients. Phan et al. proposed a
effect by increasing the performance of rehabilitation process.
This is proven when the result in degree value are accurate when
prototype adaptive rehabilitation instrument that can guide
being compared with the flexion of both shoulder and elbow exercise motion of upper limbs using a robotic arm [6]. The
joints. This project can give advantages on research if the input main advantages of the design are the ability to do
parameter needed in the flexion of elbow and wrist. simultaneous active and passive control of the robotic arm and
producing force feedback for motion guidance. On the other
Keywords—Premillinary, Biomechatronics; robotic arm; hand, Diez et al. developed an arm rehabilitation robot with
rehabilitation three (3) DoF actuated by pneumatic system that can assist in
therapies related to siting and supine position [7].
I. INTRODUCTION Balasubramaniam et al. presented a wearable upper extremity
therapy robot called RUPERT that has five (5) pneumatic
According to the United Nations (UN), by 2030 the number muscle actuators to assist shoulder, elbow, forearm and hand
of people over 60 years will increase by 56 per cent, from 901 movements. The device is portable, lightweight and enables the
million to more than 1.4 billion worldwide [1]. As the number user to better mimic activities of daily living. However, based
of older persons is expected to grow, it is imperative that on various literatures, electric actuators are more popular due
government and private health care providers prepare adequate to the high force to weight ratio. Moreover, pneumatic systems
and modern facilities that can provide quality services for the are difficult to control due to the nonlinearity nature of air
needs of older persons especially in rehabilitation centers. compression. Nevertheless, many of the developed
Implementation of robotic technology in rehabilitation process rehabilitation robots are not suitable to be used at home due to
is a modern method and definitely can contribute in this policy the complexity of the system.
and capable in promoting early recovery and motor learning
[2]. Furthermore, systematic application of robotic technology This paper presents the development of a low-cost robotic
can produce significant clinical results in motor recovery of arm to assist in rehabilitation focusing on shoulder, elbow and
post-traumatic central nervous system injury by assisting in wrist. As the development of the robot arm is still in progress,
physical exercise based on voluntary movement in this paper will discuss mainly about the mechanical design,
rehabilitation [3]. kinematics of the robotic arm and preliminary experimental
results to show the usefulness of the device.
One of the most challenging issues in robotics is to develop
a robotic arm having abilities close to an actual human arm.
Motion analysis of limb movement is becoming important in II. METHODOLOGY
biomechatronic field of study where researchers need to
A. Robotic Arm Design
analyze the forces and kinematics of arm with multiple joints.
Furthermore, researchers also need to select the appropriate The robotics arm is mainly made of aluminum. Polymer
components to develop robotic arms which require components material is also used to cover the external of the robotics arm
with high accuracy, durability and reliability. and for pulleys. Polymer material is used because it is
lightweight and can be easily shaped to create the structure of
There are various robotic arms that have been developed the robotic arm. Polymer is also used for the handle part which
for rehabilitation. These robotic arms are actuated either by

978-1-53861807-3/17/$31.00 ©2017 IEEE

2017 International Conference on Engineering Technology and Technopreneurship (ICE2T)

can increase the grasping function. Limb replacement must be

anthropomorphic in general shape, size and outline [9].
Therefore, the idea of this study is to gain controllability and
achieve precise angle of upper arms movement of the robotic
arms. A gear system is applied to have a safe and smooth
movement of wrist and shoulder of the patient and for
supporting the load of the weight. To ensure the smooth
development of the robotic arm, selection of suitable robotic
arm design is crucial. Thus, the design of robotic arms was
visualized in 3D design with a specific measurement and
specification using SolidWorks software.
Fig. 1 shows the design of the proposed robotic arm for
rehabilitation designed using SolidWorks software. As shown
in the figure, the robotic arm is consists of five (5) main parts:
shoulder, upper arm, elbow, forearm and wrist. Gearing
systems are installed inside the DC motor housings on the
shoulder and elbow parts to enable the user to control the
movement of the robotic arm. The capability of the arm 45˚
movements depends on the DoF of each connection. Three (3)
DC motors are used in this device which is installed in the
housings on the shoulder, elbow and wrist. These DC motors (a) 45deg elbow bend
will assist the user’s movement based on a pre-determined
simple rehabilitation tasks. The DC motors will produce safe
and controlled torque that can assist the predetermined
movement. In the later subsection, four (4) types of
rehabilitation tasks to show the usefulness of the proposed
device will be described.
Fig. 2 shows images of various ROM that can be done by
the proposed robot arm. The ROM for shoulder, elbow and
wrist are 180deg, 180deg and 90deg, respectively. The wrist
and forearm of the robot arm are designed to support the user
arm during rehabilitation. The user will grasp the handle for
exercise related to the wrist. During exercise, user’s forearm
will be tightened to the lower arm of the robot arm using
Velcro straps. By doing this, the user can easily move the robot
arm during rehabilitation exercises.

Upper Arm

(a) 150deg elbow bend

Wrist Fig. 2. Various ROM that can be done by the proposed robot arm.

Forearm Elbow The important inputs for the motions of the robot arm are
derived from the computations of forward and inverse
kinematics that will be explained in the next subsection. The
design of the robotic arm is simple enough for abduction and
adduction kinematics computations to be done in real time,
while still give chances of human capabilities and span motion
of stroke patient. Fig. 3 and Fig. 4 show a user bending her
elbow assisted by the robotic arm. The angle of the elbow is
Fig. 1. 3D design of the proposed robotic arms for rehabilitation. controlled using a simple forward and reverse switch that can
be controlled by the user.
2017 International Conference on Engineering Technology and Technopreneurship (ICE2T)

However, in this experiment, the device was tested by a healthy

young adult for preliminary experiment. The user was asked to
move her arm according to the pre-determined exercises as
shown in the Fig. 5. As shown in the figure, the user position is
sitting while the user’s right arm is attached with the
rehabilitation robot. The user was asked to sit comfortably, and
the height of the robot arm was set according to the comfort of
Motor for the user. The user’s arm movement is controlled by the robotic
shoulder arm, where the actuators will provide slow and safe motions. A
controller with ON/OFF switches is used to control the robot
motions. Switches are also prepared for the user to choose the
type of exercise for rehabilitation. In all four (4) types of
simple exercises, the user has his/her arm straight pointing to
the ground, and then, bending the elbow assist by the robot arm
either to 45deg, 90deg, 120deg or 150deg according to the
chosen type of exercise.
Motor for

Fig. 3. A user is doing arm exercise with 90deg elbow bend assisted by the
robotic arm.

Motor for

(a) 45deg elbow bent (b) 90deg elbow bent

Fig. 4. A user is doing arm exercise with 180deg elbow bend assisted by the
robotic arm.

In this section, the usefulness of the proposed rehabilitation
robot is evaluated through simple preliminary experiments.

A. Experimental Setup
In order to show the usefulness of the proposed device, four
(4) types of exercises have been selected as shown in Fig. 5.
Since this device is an early prototype, the current robot arm is
developed for right arm only. In the future, robot arm for the
left arm will be developed. (c) 120deg elbow bent (d) 150deg elbow bent
Ideally, the data should be collected from various groups of Fig. 5. Arm motions for experimental purposes.
healthy people and patients including young adults and old
adults to demonstrate the range of human performances.
2017 International Conference on Engineering Technology and Technopreneurship (ICE2T)

IV. CONCLUSION [2] H. I. Krebs, N. Hogan, M. L. Aisen and B. T. Volpe, “Robot-aided

neurorehabilitation,” IEEE Trans. Rehabil. Eng. 6(1), pp. 75-87, 1998.
This project, Development of Robotic arms for [3] W. Paetsch and M. Kaneko, “A Three Fingered, Multijointed Gripper
Rehabilitation is the best experienced in term of experiencing For Experimental Use,” Proc. IEEE International workshop on
hand-on electronics, mechanical and software aspect in Intelligent Robots and Stems ’90 (IROS '90), pp. 853-858, vol. 2, Julai
designing a workable. The design and control strategy of the 1990.
Robotic arms are described in this thesis in details. The [4] J. C. Perry, J. Rosen and S. Burns, “Upper-Limb Powered Exoskeleton
ultimate intention of the proposed Robotic arms to assist the Design,” IEEE/ASME Trans. on Mechatronics, pp. 408-417, 2007.
disable individuals who suffer from lower body motor [5] T. Nef, M. Guidali, V. Klamroth and R. Riener, “ARMin-Exoskeleton
for Stroke Rehabilitation,” IFMBE Proceedings 25(9), pp. 127-130,
impairment by giving support to their lower body limb that is 2009.
from the shoulder to wrist part of body. Moreover, in order to [6] S. Phan, A. Lioulemes, C. Lutterodt, F. Makedon and V. Metsis,
increase the mobility and to improve the quality of this Robotic “Guided physical therapy through the use of the Barrett WAM robotic
arms, a five Degree Of Freedom Robotic arms is also proposed arm,” Proc. of 2014 IEEE International Symposium on Haptic, Audio
in this paper however this rehabilitation robot design is under and Visual Environments and Games (HAVE), pp. 24-28, 2014.
preliminary research. [7] J. A. Diez et al., “Design and Development of a Pneumatic Robot for
Neurorehabilitation Therapies,” Robot 2015: Second Iberian Robotic
Conference, vol. 418 of Advances in Intelligent Systems and
ACKNOWLEDGMENT Computing, pp. 315-326, 2015.
The authors would like to take this opportunity to express [8] S. Balasubramaniam et al., “Rupert: an exoskeleton robot for assisting
rehabilitation of arm functions,” In: Virtual Rehabilitation, pp. 163-167,
his sincere appreciation to his respectful supervisor for their 2008.
supervision, encouragement, ideas, patience, invaluable advice
[9] R. F. ff. Weir, “Design of Artificial Arms and Hands for Prosthetic
and guidance. Applications,” Standard Handbook of Biomedical Engineering and
Design, McGraw-Hill, Chapter 32, 2004.
REFERENCES [10] M. Young, The Technical Writer’s Handbook. Mill Valley, CA:
University Science, 1989.
[1] United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population
Division (2015). World Population Ageing 2015 – Highlights