Lever-actuated resonance assistance (LARA): a wheelchair-based method for upper extremity therapy and overground ambulation for people with severe arm impairment

Daniel K Zondervan, Brendan Smith, David J Reinkensmeyer
IEEE ... International Conference on Rehabilitation Robotics: [proceedings] 2013, 2013: 6650400
People with severe arm impairment have limited technologies available for retraining their arms, and, if they also have difficulty walking, they often cannot effectively use a manual wheelchair because they cannot grasp and push the pushrim. We are using Lever-Actuated Resonance Assistance (LARA) to solve these problems. A LARA-based device can attach to a manual wheelchair and allow it to be used by people with severe arm weakness in a stationary exercise mode, or for self-powered overground ambulation. LARA uses a lever drive and arm support to appropriately position the arm and to reduce the dexterity required to operate the wheelchair. It also uses mechanical resonance implemented with elastic bands to provide assistance for both stationary exercise and overground ambulation. We first review here pilot results in which we used the LARA method to provide arm therapy to individuals with chronic stroke in stationary exercise mode. We then describe a novel motion-based user interface that allows individuals to control a video game with LARA while operating a wheelchair in resonance. Finally, for overground ambulation mode, we show in simulation that the mechanical resonance provided by LARA theoretically allows people with severe arm weakness to propel themselves with reduced effort and obtain speeds previously unattainable.

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