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Motor control analysis of the upper limb Phase 1 - development of a biomimetic robotic exoskeleton

Abstract

The current project is the initial part of a long-term research line (10 years) aiming at the implementation of the Biomechatronics Laboratory of the University of São Paulo. The main research focus of this lab is the study of human motor control from an engineering perspective and the development of upper limb exoskeletons that will be used to test experimentally the proposed control models. During the first part of the project the goal is to propose a biomimetic motor control model that will be validated with a robotic device (exoskeleton) for the upper limb (experimental setup). With the help of the sophisticated experimental setup it is expected to obtain information about the different control levels of the human motor system, such as the relation between joint impedance and EMG, reflex modulation and the sensory integration in the formation of the internal model. The project challenges are both scientific and technological. The more prominent scientific challenge is the development and validation of a biologically plausible motor control architecture for the upper limb reaching task. The technological challenge is the design and construction of a robotic exoskeleton actuated at the shoulder, elbow and wrist from a commercial passive orthosis. Afterwards, the integrated system will be used to study motor control of healthy volunteers and, at later stages, out of the scope of this proposal, for the study of functional compensation of people with motor disabilities. Therefore, the development of the motor control model will be based on physical (joint torques) and sensory (tendon vibration) perturbations of the upper limb reaching task, in order to register joint angles, interaction forces and EMG. (AU)

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