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Research project: Development of a smart Armeo - Dormant

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Robotic devices are increasingly being used to increase intensity of training and motivation to exercise in stroke rehabilitation. In this project we are developing a robotic device for hand opening and grasping to be used in conjunction with a commercial upper limb robot – the Armeo spring ( The device will use electrical stimulation open the hand during the performance of virtual reality – computer-based games.

Project Overview

The project involves kinematic research to understand the synergies of reaching and grasping so that the level and timing of ES can be applied in a natural way. Following the development of the device and feasibility testing we will conduct a pilot clinical trial. The project is a collaboration between the University of Southampton, the Manufacturers of the Armeo and the Technical University of Zurich (ETHZ). The project is closely linked with: ‘Hand opening to grasp ‘virtual’ objects during reaching tasks in a rehabilitation robot: a proof of concept study’

The aim of this project is to develop an intelligent Virtual reality training environment to assist recovery of upper limb function following stroke. The environment will combine robot assisted support of shoulder and elbow movements (Armeo) and electrical stimulation (FES) to open the hand during reaching and grasping.

The first stage of the research is to characterize and understand normal and impaired (people with stroke affecting their upper limb movement) kinematics of the shoulder, elbow, wrist and hand in during reaching and grasping in the Armeo. This has been done using Vicon motion analysis combined with position data from the Armeo. Analysis of the data has allowed us to define the temporal and joint angle kinematics which will be used to control the output from the FES stimulator and to measure changes in performance in a sample of stroke patients.

This work has also advanced current understanding, not only of the basic kinematics of reach and grasp but also the synergies between joint movements. Future work will examine EMG data acquired concurrently.

Affiliated research groups

Scuola Sant’ Anna Pisa
ETH Zurich

Project team

Prof Jane Burridge, Dr Cheryl Metcalf (Roberts Fellow), Martin Warner (Experimental Officer)

External staff

Prof Silvestro Micera, PhD, Adjunct Assistant Professor, Neuroprosthesis Control Group, Head Institute for Automation, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETHZ), ETH Zentrum / ETL K 24, Physikstrasse 3 - CH-8092 Zurich, CH AND University Hospital Balgrist, SCI Center Forchstr. 340, CH-8008 Zurich, CH

Project funder

KTI (Swiss Govt funding and Hocoma A/C)*
And Wessex Medical Trust

Associated research themes

Robot therapy
Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES)
Stroke rehabilitation
Recovery of upper limb function following stroke
Kinematics and motion capture and analysis

Related research groups

Rehabilitation and Health Technologies


Conferences and events associated with this project:

Hill, K., Burridge, J. H., Micera, S. & Metcalf, C. (2011) Kinematics of Unimpaired Reach-Grasp-Release During Robotic Assisted Reaching. International Society of Biomechanics, 33rd Congress. 3-7 July 2011. Brussels. In Press.



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