Exoskeleton-Based Robotic Platform Applied in Biomechanical Modelling of the Human Upper Limb
One of the approaches to study the human motor system, and specifically the motor strategies implied during postural tasks of the upper limbs, is to manipulate the mechanical conditions of each joint of the upper limbs independently. At the same time, it is essential to pick up biomechanical signals and bio-potentials generated while the human motor system adapts to the new condition. The aim of this paper is two-fold: first, to describe the design, development and validation of an experimental platform designed to modify or perturb the mechanics of human movement, and simultaneously acquire, process, display and quantify bioelectric and biomechanical signals; second, to characterise the dynamics of the elbow joint during postural control. A main goal of the study was to determine the feasibility of estimating human elbow joint dynamics using EMG-data during maintained posture. In particular, the experimental robotic platform provides data to correlate electromyographic (EMG) activity, kinetics and kinematics information from the upper limb motion. The platform aims consists of an upper limb powered exoskeleton, an EMG acquisition module, a control unit and a software system. Important concerns of the platform such as dependability and safety were addressed in the development. The platform was evaluated with 4 subjects to identify, using system identification methods, the human joint dynamics, i.e. visco-elasticity. Results obtained in simulations and experimental phase are introduced.