Design Improvements to Robotic Parallel Bars for Rehabilitation

Open Access
Doerzbacher, Megan Ashley
Area of Honors:
Mechanical Engineering
Bachelor of Science
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Jason Zachary Moore, Thesis Supervisor
  • Domenic Adam Santavicca, Honors Advisor
  • Robotic Parallel Bars
  • Rehabilitation
  • mechanical engineering
For the millions of people relearning the basic skill of walking, robotic devices are increasingly becoming a part of the rehabilitation process. A need still exists, however, for improved monitoring and feedback about the patients’ performance. On most devices, the patients’ reliance cannot be measured; the therapist is not able to quantitatively measure how much body weight is supported by the device and how much the patient is supporting. This need also appears in the evaluation of geriatric patients: an accurate way to measure the patient’s ability to walk could help to identify fall-prone individuals. This project seeks to satisfy that need by attaching force sensors to the Robotic Parallel Bars (RPB) device to measure the amount of weight the patient is applying to the parallel bars. This data will assist the therapists in monitoring the patient’s progress and allow them to create more effective treatment plans. Other improvements to the device will allow for enhanced stability. This is done by changing the supporting bars from aluminum to stainless steel and by redesigning the height adjustment mechanism, which was previously very unstable. Better stability in the device will mean enhanced safety for the patient, which is a fundamental need. Safety is of utmost importance for this application. After making these improvements to the RPB, the device should make the patient’s recovery faster and the therapist’s job easier.