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A massage robot based on Chinese massage therapy

Lei Hu (School of Mechanical and Electrical Engineering, Harbin Engineering University, Harbin, China)
Yun Wang (School of Mechanical Engineering and Automation, Beihang University, Beijing, China)
Jie Zhang (School of Mechanical Engineering and Automation, Beihang University, Beijing, China)
Jun Zhang (China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences, Beijing, China)
Yan Cui (School of Mechanical Engineering and Automation, Beihang University, Beijing, China)
Lvzhong Ma (School of Mechanical Engineering, Jiangsu University, Beijing, China)
Junyuan Jiang (Department of Orthopaedics, The Second Hospital of Beijing Municipal Corps, Chinese People's Armed Police Forces, Beijing, China)
Liming Fang (Department of Orthopaedics, The Second Hospital of Beijing Municipal Corps, Chinese People's Armed Police Forces, Beijing, China)
Bangcheng Zhang (School of Mechanical and Electrical Engineering, Changchun University of Technology, Beijing, China)

Industrial Robot

ISSN: 0143-991x

Article publication date: 1 March 2013

823

Abstract

Purpose

As Chinese massage is increasingly popular, many physicians are needed these days. In order to promote the experience and skills of experts and reduce labour intensity during massage, a massage robot, which could reproduce the expert techniques with individualized manipulation parameters and enhanced safety control strategies, is presented in this paper.

Design/methodology/approach

The kinematic and force features of key massage techniques, such as Thumb Kneading, Pressing, Rolling, Vibrating and Pinching, are summarized by analyzing the massage processes of expert physicians, and a mathematical model for robotic massage is established. With safety issues taken into account, the overall system structure of the massage robot is proposed. The system generally consists of a positioning platform and a massage end‐effector which implements the massage techniques, and the end‐effector is further divided into a parallel mechanism and a massage hand to accommodate different techniques. Visual tracking is used for positioning acupuncture points by recognizing markers on a massage vest worn by the patient. A pain threshold value is introduced to individualize therapy schemes and a force‐position control method based on the pain threshold is presented.

Findings

VAS (Visual Analogue Scale) tests for lumbar muscle strain are carried out using the massage robot, and the treatment effect of the massage robot based on traditional Chinese massage therapy theory is initially validated.

Research limitations/implications

The treatment effect of the massage robot needs to be assessed clinically for more occasions and more clinical experiments will be conducted, to optimize the configuration and control strategy to meet the clinical needs in future work.

Originality/value

The robotic massage system presented in this paper is acting on acupuncture points based on traditional Chinese massage therapy theory, with human manipulation techniques reproduced and expert experiences incorporated. The massage robot can take the place of a massager to perform Chinese massage. Most of the massage robotic systems published in the world perform only one massage technique and the whole massage process is not completely considered. By comparison, the authors' massage robot could perform five techniques. Furthermore, the authors have designed the procedure of robotic massage specifically for patients who suffer from lumbar muscle strain.

Keywords

Citation

Hu, L., Wang, Y., Zhang, J., Zhang, J., Cui, Y., Ma, L., Jiang, J., Fang, L. and Zhang, B. (2013), "A massage robot based on Chinese massage therapy", Industrial Robot, Vol. 40 No. 2, pp. 158-172. https://doi.org/10.1108/01439911311297775

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2013, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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