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Volume 43 Number 5, August/September 2006
Pages 591 — 604

Abstract - Principle and design of a mobile arm support for people with muscular weakness

Just L. Herder, PhD;1* Niels Vrijlandt, MSc;2 Tonko Antonides, MSc;2 Marijn Cloosterman, BSc;2
Peter L. Mastenbroek, BSc2

1Department of Biomechanical Engineering, Delft University of Technology, Mekelweg, the Netherlands; 2Microgravity Products BV, Van Nelleweg, Rotterdam, the Netherlands
Abstract — This article describes the development of a mobile arm support for people with muscular diseases. The arm support is spring-balanced, with special attention on reduction of operating effort (high balancing quality and low friction), functionality (large range of motion), and aesthetics (inconspicuous design). The spring settings can be adjusted for wearing heavier clothing or picking up an object, a function that can also be used for moving up or down. The device levels itself automatically to compensate for uneven floors, a function that can be overruled to assist forward/backward motion of the arm. Thus, the balancer can compensate for the weight of the arm and be adjusted to generate force to a limited (safe) extent. The principle and design of the mechanism are presented and preliminary field trial results are given. Two users report on 6 months of continuous use of the arm support in their home and social environments.
Key words: adjustable spring mechanism, assistive device, biomechanics, gravity equilibrator, mobile arm support, neuromuscular diseases, passive orthosis, rehabilitation, static balancing, upper limb, user opinions.

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