Development of Reinforced Extension Type Flexible Pneumatic Actuator with Circumferential Restraints and Its Application for Rehabilitation Device
Based on super-aging society in Japan, a welfare pneumatic device to give passive exercise for the temporally injured elderly and disabled has been actively researched and developed. In previous study, based on opinions of Physical Therapist (PT) and Occupational Therapist (OT), a home-based rehabilitation device that could give passive exercise for patients using extension type flexible pneumatic actuators (EFPA), built-in quasi-servo valves and built-in displacement sensors using a wire type linear potentiometer was proposed and tested. However, the device did not have enough force and stiffness to drive shoulders with both arms. In this study, to get enough generated force and stiffness of the device, a parallel arranged EFPA reinforced with circumferential restraint was proposed and tested. The rehabilitation device for shoulder joint using the improved actuator was also proposed and tested. The built-in attitude control system using valves, sensors and an embedded controller was also developed. As a result, it can be confirmed that the device can give passive exercise with larger moving area and enough force and torque to move patient’s shoulder joint.