Jodhpur (Rajasthan): The Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Jodhpur researchers designed robotic trainers that can be used in physiotherapy to treat lower limb disabilities.
The research team was led by Assistant Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering, IIT Jodhpur Dr Jayant Kumar Mohanta. Limb disability is a serious malady among Indians, and is caused by age-related ailments, physical deformations, accidents, strokes, polio, etc.
According to Census 2011, there are five million people with locomotor disabilities in India.
As per the IIT Jodhpur “Lower limb rehabilitation, especially for gait recovery is time-consuming and sometimes involves multiple physiotherapists. Recently, there has been interest in designing robotic devices for lower limb rehabilitation. In robotic rehabilitation, the therapist only needs to provide supervision and the setting up of the device. The understanding gleaned from this research work has been shared in a paper in the International Journal of Advanced Robotic Systems.”
The institution further said most existing robotic systems treat patients by performing motions only in the sagittal plane – the imaginary plane that divides the body into the left and right parts. For complete limb movement, sagittal movement is not sufficient and movements in transverse (upper and lower body) and coronal (front and back) planes are also essential.
The IIT Jodhpur researchers have proposed a robot manipulator arrangement that is capable of providing motion to the ankle in all three planes that is sagittal, transverse and coronal plane.
“Complete Rehabilitation is possible if the correct sequence of therapies is executed. Robots will be able to do it without getting tired,” explained Dr Mohanta.
The robotic trainer was a brace or a wearable device like an exoskeleton that supports the leg. It was provided with a Cartesian (3-directional) parallel manipulator to perform the required limb therapeutic motions in the transverse/horizontal/lateral and sagittal/longitudinal plane. The design ensured a large workspace to execute the required range of motion therapies, he said.
The usefulness of the designed stationary trainer was confirmed using computer-based simulations along with a motion control scheme by performing various clinically suggested therapeutic passive range of motions. The design could execute important essential rehabilitation therapeutic movements like abduction (the motion of a limb or appendage away from the midline of the body), adduction (the motion of a limb or appendage towards the midline of the body), flexion (bending movement), and extension of the hip and knee joints
“The robotic trainer we have designed will help providing physiotherapy to paralytic patients, and for those who have spinal cord injuries that have disrupted their lower limb functions,” said the research lead.
The trainer proposed by the IIT Jodhpur team is conceptually simple and has a modular mechanical configuration that is easy to fix and use. Furthermore, since only linear actuators are used for the hip and knee motions, the robot itself is stable, safe and robust during use.
Robotics is an interdisciplinary field that cuts across domains of software, control, mechanics, sensing and electronics. In order to meet this increasing demand for engineers with diverse backgrounds in the field of robotic and mobility systems, and to support relevant research and development, an MTech Programme in Robotics and Mobility System is designed by IIT Jodhpur.
The proposed MTech programme will provide interdisciplinary learning opportunities to participate in one of the most challenging advanced technology areas. It is also envisaged that this programme will serve as a platform to test innovative ideas in the design, development, and testing of Robotics and Mobility systems, said IIT Jodhpur.