Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Embargo Period

9-2-2014

Degree Program

Mechanical Engineering

Degree Type

Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering (M.S.M.E.)

Year Degree Awarded

2014

Month Degree Awarded

September

Advisor Name

Frank

Advisor Middle Initial

C

Advisor Last Name

Sup

Abstract

ABSTRACT

DESIGN OF A PASSIVE EXOSKELETON SPINE

SEPTEMBER 2014

HAOHAN ZHANG, B.E.M.E, DALIAN UNIVERSITY OF TECHNOLOGY

M.S.M.E., UNIVERSITY OF MASSACHUSETTS AMHERST

Directed by: Professor Frank C. Sup IV

In this thesis, a passive exoskeleton spine was designed and evaluated by a series of biomechanics simulations. The design objectives were to reduce the human operator’s back muscle efforts and the intervertebral reaction torques during a full range sagittal plane spine flexion/extension. The biomechanics simulations were performed using the OpenSim modeling environment. To manipulate the simulations, a full body musculoskeletal model was created based on the OpenSim gait2354 and “lumbar spine” models. To support flexion and extension of the torso a “push-pull” strategy was proposed by applying external pushing and pulling forces on different locations on the torso. The external forces were optimized via simulations and then a physical exoskeleton prototype was built to evaluate the “push-pull” strategy in vivo. The prototype was tested on three different subjects where the sEMG and inertial data were collected to estimate the muscle force reduction and intervertebral torque reduction. The prototype assisted the users in sagittal plane flexion/extension and reduced the average muscle force and intervertebral reaction torque by an average of 371 N and 29 Nm, respectively.

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