• Participant wearing prototype exoskeleton
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Free-moving powered arm exoskeleton to assist in the rehabilitation of shoulder and elbow joints
Group Members
George Anderson, Katherine Arnold, Thomas Vartdal, Henry Barnard, Raghda Tayel, Eleanor Glynn, Samuel Marks
Supervisors
Professor Liudi Jiang, Dr Andrew Hamilton
Supporters
Rhino Motion Controls, Overnight Composites
Worldwide, someone suffers a stroke every two seconds. For those left with disabilities, exoskeletons are being considered for rehabilitation to replace labour intensive physiotherapy which costs the NHS £1.8 billion per annum and places a large strain on medical staff. Current exoskeletons are extremely costly, and their immobility requires vulnerable patients to travel to a hospital for therapy.

PULSE is intended as the first inexpensive, portable exoskeleton designed for rehabilitation of an upper limb following stroke. This system uses a backpack based design, enabling a patient to wear the exoskeleton and perform patient—led physiotherapy, in the comfort of their own home and with the level of assistance tailored to their needs.

Guided by academics and clinicians, Project PULSE developed an innovative sensor system that detects motions from the patient’s arm and assists movement through its actuation system. An iterative design procedure was followed whereby concepts were designed, developed and manufactured to create a Mk.1 design. Finite element analysis, physical testing and further consultation with clinicians informed the necessary modifications, leading to an improved Mk. 2 design. This design addressed issues and added functionality, such as adding an additional degree of freedom. Mk. 2 was tested and evaluated, including validation of its movement using the biomechanics Gait Lab, further physical testing, and a final consultation with stroke survivors.

The final design proposal is a system that costs less than 1% of comparable existing designs, and uniquely enables patient care to be taken into the home, increasing patient comfort and helping relieve capacity strain within the NHS.
Computational model of prototype exoskeleton