Pneumatically-powered robotic exoskeleton to exercise specific lower extremity muscle groups in humans
Henderson, Gregory Clark
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A control method is proposed for exercising specific muscles of a human's lower body. This is accomplished using an exoskeleton that imposes active force feedback control. The proposed method involves a combined dynamic model of the musculoskeletal system of the lower-body with the dynamics of pneumatic actuators. The exoskeleton is designed to allow for individual control of mono-articular or bi-articular muscles to be exercised while not inhibiting the subject's range of motion. The control method has been implemented in a 1-Degree of Freedom (DOF) exoskeleton that is designed to resist the motion of the human knee by applying actuator forces in opposition to a specified muscle force profile. In this research, there is a discussion on the model of the human's lower body and how muscles are affected as a function of joint positions. Then it is discussed how to calculate for the forces needed by a pneumatic actuator to oppose the muscles to create the desired muscle force profile at a given joint angles. The proposed exoskeleton could be utilized either for rehabilitation purposes, to prevent muscle atrophy and bone loss of astronauts, or for muscle training in general.