Theses Doctoral

Robotic Exoskeletons for Torso Study, Training, and Assistance

Murray, Rosemarie Chiara

Robotic exoskeletons are important tools in medicine for characterizing certain aspects of diseases, enabling physical therapy treatments, or providing assistance to those with impairments. One area in particular where these devices can make an impact is the study and treatment of scoliosis. First, I adapt a design of a robotic torso exoskeleton to serve the population most susceptible to scoliosis, female adolescents.

I used the device to compare the torso stiffness of members of this group with and without scoliosis, and found an interaction effect of degree of freedom (DOF) and torso segment on translational stiffness, and an interaction effect of DOF and group on rotational stiffness. These results can inform the models used to create rigid orthoses for conservative treatment or to simulate the effects of surgical procedures.

Second, I explore the effects of different types of augmented sensory feedback commonly used in scoliosis physical therapy. I compare visual and force feedback provided by the exoskeleton on one’s ability to replicate static poses and dynamic movements. I find that while force feedback leads to faster initial improvement, visual feedback may enable the user to learn finer details of the movement.

Third, I design a torso exoskeleton for people with neuromotor impairments. People who are not able to sit up independently are at a high risk of developing neuromuscular scoliosis, and must balance the benefits of treatment with rigid orthoses, with the limits that these devices place on functional movements. The device allows users four degrees of freedom, to support functional movements such as reaching and pressure relief maneuvers, but prevents lateral translation and axial rotation, which can contribute to neuromuscular scoliosis. Together, these results demonstrate the potential for robotic exoskeletons in torso study, training, and assistance.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Mechanical Engineering
Thesis Advisors
Agrawal, Sunil K.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
October 5, 2022