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CPRF Collaborates with WSU Engineering Students on Exoskeleton Research

November 11, 2022

CPRF recently collaborated with Wichita State University engineering students on an exoskeleton research project.

The WSU research team received a grant from the National Science Foundation for this work, consulting with our occupational therapists and fabrication technicians. Dr. Yimesker Yihun, Mechanical Engineering Associate Professor, oversees the project.

The two exoskeleton models in this project focus on arm movements. One is a more traditional joint-based exoskeleton, while the other is more biologically inspired and compensates for the user if they become fatigued. Motion tests captured data and compared the two designs using people with limited upper extremity mobility to determine the effectiveness of the biologically inspired design.

“Instead of targeting the joint, we are targeting the task.” Dr. Yihun explained. “For example, if the person can execute the task by themselves, then the exoskeleton will just simply follow them. But if at some point if they cannot — are unable to move that, then the algorithm detects that and automatically gives them the support they need. So we call it assistance-as-needed-support-strength.”

Our therapists and fabrication technicians were key in recruiting participants that work with our Wheelchair & Posture Seating Clinic. They also helped facilitate the prototype testing.

Exoskeletons are sometimes used in physical therapy to help people return to their prior level of functioning or to assist in daily activities. Research like this provides more knowledge about how to create improved designs that more closely mimic human movements and improve comfort for the user.

More details about the team’s research can be found here.

For videos of the process, be sure to check out our Instagram.