Article about A-Gear project at Muscular Dystrophy News Today

Last Monday, Charles Moore wrote an article about the A-Gear project at the website Muscular Dystrophy News Today.. The title is: A-gear Novel Wearable Dynamic Arm For Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy Patients.

A team of research scientists based at the University of Twente Department Of Biomechanical Engineering in Enschede, The Netherlands, is developing a passive arm support device prototype, dubbed A-gear, that runs along the body from the contact surface between the seat and upper legs via the torso and upper arm to the forearm and is designed to be worn inconspicuously under clothing. As opposed to existing arm orthotics devices, the A-gear’s proposed kinematic structure allows trunk motion and requires fewer links and less joint space without compromising balancing precision of movement.

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Report K9 course: drawing robots for boys with Duchenne

On Tuesday 5th of November of 2013, third-year bachelor students from the University of Twente presented and demonstrated the final prototypes of 7 drawing robots. Students were asked to design and build a drawing robot in groups of 5 people in 10 weeks as the final assignment of the Motor & Neural systems course coordinated by Arno Stienen. Robots had to be able to draw in a surface of an A4 paper and be controlled using the electrical signals of the arm muscles. The idea of the assignment was inspired by the Flextension project, so the robots that the students made were meant to help boys with DMD to draw. An evaluation committee composed by professors, PhD students and a boy with DMD (Kevin), evaluated the presentations of the 7 groups. The winner was group number 2. During this assignment students not only learned about mechanics, control, sensors, signal processing, etc. but also about Duchenne muscular dystrophy and how valuable the work done in the Flextension project is.

STW Symbionics program granted!

On December 3rd, the Symbionics program was granted by STW! This program contains six projects and the focus is on providing adaptive support.

More and more people with disabilities in everyday life rely on support from devices, or so-called “assistive device”. Such tools improve the ability to keep moving, even if for example muscles are weakened. The traditional mechanisms are static and do not adapt to the environment or a specific task. The objective of this program is to develop devices that adjust automatically to the (changing) characteristics and needs of the user. This is achieved by combining clever designs with adaptive control systems. The patient or user can thus better cope with changes, such as increase of disease severity, changing environments (for example walking on another surface) or changes in duties, which benefits the independent functioning.
(Source: website STW)

Prototype improved motion

The researchers of the Flextension A-Gear project are working on the development of a new arm support for over 1.5 years now. A lot of research has been done and the development of a first passive prototype (without electromotors) is finished. This prototype is extensively tested in healthy subject and in boys with Duchenne. The first results were positive. The range of motion of boys with Duchenne increased and the indicated to be less fatigued when using the arm support. However there were some points of improvement. That’s why we are designing and assembling a second prototype, which will be tested extensively as well.

The figure shows the effect of wearing the first prototype on the amount of muscle activation of the Biceps Brachii (the muscle that flexes the elbow) during the performance of activities in a healthy subject. As you can see, less muscle activity was needed when the subject was wearing the prototype, which probably means that activities need less energy.

Are you interested in testing one of the prototypes or to participate in another study concerning arm function in boys with Duchenne, please contact Mariska Janssen (T: 024-3668195, E:

ICORR 2013 June 24-26

Within two weeks the researchers within this project will present two posters at the ICORR (international conference on rehabilitation robotics) in Seattle, USA from June 24-26.
Gerard Dunning will present his poster with the title: A review of assistive devices for arm balancing, poster B12 on Monday June 24 between 16:00-17:00.
Joan Lobo will present his poster with the title: Design of a perfect balance system for active upper-extremity exoskeletons, poster E22 on Wednesday June 26 between 10:20-11:15.
If you are around and want to discuss or meet with us, you are welcome at our posters.

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