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When we develop wearable assistive devices, comfort and support are two main issues that need to be considered. In conventional design approaches, the degree of freedom of the wearer's joint movements tends to be oversimplified. Accordingly, the wearer's motion becomes restrained and bone/ligament injuries might occur in case of an unexpected fall. To mitigate these issues, this paper proposes a novel joint link mechanism inspired by a human spine structure as well as functionalities. The key feature of the proposed spine-like joint link mechanism is that hemispherical blocks are concatenated via flexible synthetic fiber lines so that their concatenation stiffness can be adjusted according to a tensile force. This feature has a great potentiality for designing a wearable assistive device that can support aged people's sit-to-stand action or augment spinal motion by regulating the concatenation stiffness. In addition, the concatenated hemispherical blocks enable the wearer to move his/her joint with full freedom, which in turn increases the wearer's mobility and prevents joint misalignment. The experimental results with a testbed and a pilot wearer substantiated that the spine-like joint link mechanism can serve as a key component in the design of wearable assistive devices for better mobility.


Jung-Yeong Kim, Jung-San Cho, Jin-Hyeon Kim, Jin-Tak Kim, Sang-Chul Han, Sang-Shin Park, Han-Ul Yoon. Spine-like Joint Link Mechanism to Design Wearable Assistive Devices. Sensors (Basel, Switzerland). 2022 Mar 17;22(6)

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PMID: 35336489

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