DeSouza, D. (2014), "Editorial", International Journal of Intelligent Computing and Cybernetics, Vol. 7 No. 3. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJICC-05-2014-0019Download as .RIS
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Article Type: Editorial From: International Journal of Intelligent Computing and Cybernetics, Volume 7, Issue 3
Robotic rehabilitation and assistive technologies
Millions of individuals experience impaired mobility usually accompanied by limited to no manual dexterity. The “cost” associated with these disabilities includes not only those incurred through medical and support services, but also less tangible costs, such as those due lost wages and non-productivity. The goals of rehabilitation are to ameliorate life-limiting disabilities and facilitate community re-entry. While restoration of function is the most positive outcome of rehabilitation, compensatory strategies are also employed when natural function cannot be restored. A particularly promising approach is the use of robotic assistive technologies to extend an individual's functionality and substitute for compromised functions.
In spite of the current advances in robotic assistive technologies, many individuals are still unable to effectively perform activities of daily living due to: first, the limitations of these technologies vis-à-vis the specific disabling condition; second, the inability of the technology to adapt to the disease progression; third, the fatigue and exertion imposed by prolonged exposures to a single form of technology (i.e. single-modal interface); and fourth, the difficulties in adaptation/training and the consequent resistance by patients to move from one technology to the next.
This special issue of the International Journal of Intelligent Computing and Cybernetics (IJICC) aimed at providing the readers with a collection of methods addressing aspects both in robotic rehabilitation and in robotic assistive technologies. The five papers selected for this special issue provide original designs, ideas and studies with in-depth analytical findings. Contributions included work using the following techniques: technologies for improving quality of daily living, rehabilitation robotics and telemanipulation, assisting recovery from stroke, technologies to enhance mobility and function for individuals with severe disability (e.g. spinal cord injury (SCI), ASL, muscle dystrophy, etc.), telepresence, wheelchair transportation safety and mobility, robotic prosthesis and orthotics, recreational technologies and exercise physiology benefiting persons with disabilities.
The first paper “A pediatric robotic thumb exoskeleton for at-home rehabilitation: the isolated orthosis for thumb actuation (IOTA)” authored by Patrick Aubin et al. presents the design and characterization of a novel device specifically created for pediatric grasp telerehabilitation. In simple terms, the isolated orthosis for thumb actuation is a hand-mounted mechanism that can be secured and aligned to fit individual users and by means of flexible cables, it can measure the range of motions of carpometacarpal and metacarpalphalangeal joints. The device can greatly augment in-clinic and at-home therapy through enabling telerehabilitation protocols that facilitate improved functionality and somatosensory learning.
The second paper “Integrated vision-based system for efficient, semi-automated control of a robotic manipulator” authored by Hairong Jiang, Juan Wachs and Bradley Duerstock presents a vision-guided system to operate a commercial wheelchair-mounted robotic manipulator. By using two off-the-shelf infrared depth sensors (Kinect), the authors developed a synergistic system that combines hand gestures, face detection/tracking, and object recognition in order to perform manual and semi-automated object retrieval tasks using a JACO robotic arm – e.g. pick up a bottle, cell-phone, etc. The system, targeted mainly to individuals with upper-body control after SCI, recognizes eight gestures with an accuracy of 97.5 percent in two modes of operation: manual (gesture only) and semi-manual (gestures, face detection and object recognition).
Targeting a different segment of patients, stroke survivors, is the study presented by Dalia De Santis et al. in the third paper titled “Characterizing the human-robot haptic dyad in robot therapy of stroke survivors.” In this very interesting and novel feasibility study, the authors show that 2 Hz pulsed assistance naturally suggests a simple and robust method for evaluating on line the degree of active participation of patients. This result is linked to other studies in the general area of characterization of haptic dyads to draw the preliminary conclusion that it is advantageous to look at protocols of robot rehabilitation in the general context of haptic dyads and that this novel active participation index (AC) can be a potentially powerful mechanism for the on-line adaptation of robot assistance in the therapy of stroke patients.
In the fourth paper, “Ergonomic design of a wrist robot: the influence of hyperstaticity on reaction forces and motor strategies,” Mohammad Esmaeili et al. focus on the pronosupination control of a robotic wrist that mimics the human counterpart's functionality. Since these types of complex joints cannot be accurately matched with traditional mechanical joint, mechanical differences between human and robotic joint cause hyperstaticity, which, coupled with kinematics misalignment, leads to uncontrolled force/torque at the joint. In this paper, the overall force and torque in the wrist PS rotation is quantified and a practical solution to avoid hyperstaticity and reduce the level of undesired force/torque in the wrist is presented. These results can potentially affect the design of commercial robots, reduce the magnitude of reaction forces and avoid changes in motor strategy during the robotic therapy.
At last, but not at all at least, is the paper by Kate Tsui et al., titled “Designing telepresence robot navigation for people with disabilities.” In the context of human-computer iterations and robotic telepresence as a tool to engage in social activities, the authors offer for the first time four guidelines for the design of speech-based interfaces for robotic telepresence for people with disabilities. As the authors well point out, this is the first step toward having this target population in an active role in the design and use of such robots.
For this special issue, the authors of the 24 best papers in the IEEE 2013 International Conference on Rehabilitation Robotics were invited to submit extended versions of their conference papers. After a vigorous peer review process, five manuscripts were accepted to appear in this special issue.
This guest editor would like to thank the authors and reviewers for their contributions to this special issue. Moreover, I am grateful for the IJICC for the opportunity to publish and the journal editors and staff, in special Dr Haibin Duan, for their insightful feedback to this special issue, their support and guidance in the publication.
Dr Guilherme N. DeSouza
About the Guest Editor
Dr Guilherme N. DeSouza, PhD, SMIEEE, is an Associate Professor in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at the University of Missouri (MU). He holds adjunct positions with the Computer Science Department, the MU Informatics Institute and the Sinclair School of Nursing – all at the University of Missouri. Winner of Purdue University's Honeywell Teaching Award and the Maria Canto Neuberger Research Award, and the MU Excellence in Teaching Award, Dr DeSouza came to MU after working as a Principal Research Scientist at the Purdue University and as a Senior Lecturer at the University of Western Australia. He also worked for more than ten years at the Brazilian Power Systems Research Center on the diagnostic of power systems using machine learning, pattern recognition and computational intelligence. Dr DeSouza has published various refereed book chapters, conference papers and journal articles in robotic vision, mobile robot navigation, health medicine and robotic assistive technology. He established the Vision-Guided and Intelligent Robotics Lab in 2005 with funds from the National Science Foundation, the Department of Defense, the Leonard Wood Institute, VistaCon/Naval Research Lab, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, the Coulter Foundation and the MU Research Board. Dr DeSouza has served as the Chair and as the Program Committee Member for various IEEE conferences including the current IEEE SSCI Symposium on Computational Intelligence for Robotic Rehabilitation and Assistive Technologies (CIR2AT), which he created and chairs since 2013. He is also the Chair of the IEEE Computational Intelligence Society Senior Members Committed.