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Robot Development with Application for Human Health

Jay Suekang Chae, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


This dissertation explores the development and research of two robots for improving human health. As part of one project, robot arms are attached to electric wheelchairs to assist individuals with limited mobility, especially those with spinal cord injuries. Another project aims to prevent muscle atrophy in astronauts during long space flights with wearable exercise robots. The research addresses a new approach to wheelchair-mounted assistive robots by exploring modular and self-reconfigurable robots that provide flexibility with fewer modules. Individuals with limited mobility, particularly those using powered wheelchairs due to spinal cord injuries, could benefit greatly from implementing these modular concepts in home healthcare settings. The main objective is to develop an affordable modular assistive robot tailored for individuals with limited extremity use, prioritizing spinal cord injury patients. A versatile and customizable robotic system will promote independence and improve overall quality of life by promoting mobility. The field of assistive robotics emphasizes cost-effectiveness, functionality, and usability, while providing detailed documentation of the design, rationale, prototyping, and testing processes. This project aims to develop an affordable and effective modular robot that will significantly improve the quality of life and independence of individuals with spinal cord injuries. A significant challenge for astronauts on long-duration space flights is muscle atrophy as a result of microgravity. In spite of intense resistance exercise routines, astronauts suffer muscle and bone loss, posing operational and medical risks. Existing exercise devices are aimed at addressing this issue, but these tend to have significant operational limitations. For space payload considerations, smaller and lighter exercise devices are preferred. Research aims to develop the Modular Robotic Suit (MORS) in order to overcome the limitations of existing exercise devices for astronauts. With MORS, a wearable modular robot that provides resistance across multiple joints to counteract muscle atrophy, astronauts can exercise without the constraints of scheduled on-station sessions. Regardless of attachment point, MORS offers astronauts a minimum of two degrees of freedom (DOF) to cover joint range of motion and challenge key muscle groups in response to astronaut motion. By integrating seamlessly with astronauts' routine activities, MORS offers an efficient solution to prevent muscle atrophy during future long-duration space missions.

Subject Area

Mechanical engineering|Biomedical engineering|Robotics

Recommended Citation

Chae, Jay Suekang, "Robot Development with Application for Human Health" (2023). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI30575914.