Research Highlights


Rehabilitation Medical Device


A) State-of-the-Art


Top Rehabilitation Robots and Devices Technology

In the area of rehabilitation and assistive devices in the past ten years, two rehabilitation robots and an intelligent mobility robot for home care have been developed under clinical testing at the Rehabilitation Medicine Department of the NCKU Hospital for the last six years. The overall goals are to develop novel rehabilitation robots and assistive technology devices for commercialization, to invent new physical therapy techniques, and to provide assistance to the disabled. The research results will contribute to rehabilitation medicine in an aging society throughout the world. Achievements in this area include expansion of the existing rehabilitation robot from shoulder-elbow to full upper limb, development of a new method using electro-myograms of ankle muscle groups for rehabilitation of the ankle, and the development of a remote control intelligent robot for independent living activities at home integrated with the EEG-based brain-computer interface.



 B) Executive Project


   (1) Product Development of Intelligent Neurorehabilitation Robots

           PI: Ming-Shaung Ju, Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering, NCKU

           Co-PI:Chou-Ching Lin, Clinical associate professor, Department of Neurology, NCKU 

           Co-PI:Shu-Min Chen, Assistant Professor, Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation

           Co-PI:Yung-Nien Sun, Professor, Department of Computer Science and Information Engineering, NCKU

           Co-PI:Jia-Jin J. Chen, Distinguished Professor, Department of Biomedical Engineering, NCKU

           Co-PI:Meng-Dar Shieh, Professor, Department of Industrial Design, NCKU



This project - “Product Development of Intelligent Neurorehabilitation Robots” will be focused on the development of the hand and wrist rehabilitation device. The device can be applied for rehabilitation of patients suffered from cerebrovascular disease, central nervous system injury, diabetes, occupational injuries, and post-orthopedic surgery patients. The robot contains a lightweight mechanism, ergonomic-designed casing, embedded control system, and treatment procedure for mimics the therapist’s manual movement. The robot can be stopped any time by cutting off the power supply with an emergency button, which can protect the patients in safety treatment. During robot treatment, the robot can be integrated with EMG or EEG signals to provide more effective treatment for patients.  For the first stage of this project, design and manufacture of hand-wrist rehabilitation robot to meet the medical device regulations will be conducted. In the secondary stage, we will record patients’ data including passive joint angles, passive muscle tone, voluntary joint angles, voluntary muscle strength, EMG and EEG signals in clinical trials. Based on these data, quantitative indices to enhance treatment effectiveness and increase medical worth of robot will be developed. For the third stage, the patents and know-how of robot technologies will be transferred to the business partners in order to facilitate further development of rehabilitation robot product. The project will be also supported by the Technology Transfer & Business Incubation Center of NCKU, including patenting, technology transferring, and marketing. We hope that the hand-wrist rehabilitation robot product will be quickly accepted by the medical and rehabilitation market.



Figure 1: The prototype of hand-wrist rehabilitation robot and operation of subject



Figure 2: The commercialized design of hand-wrist rehabilitation robot




(2) Functional Electrical Stimulation System for Rehabilitation of Stroke Patients

           PI: Jia-Jin Chen; Professor; Department of Biomedical Engineering



Stroke is one of the leading causes of disability in the developed countries especially with the approaching of aging society. Recent research has shown that early rehabilitation training using electrical stimulation (ES)-assisted cycling/cranking device incorporated with active movement has been the most effective protocol. Active exercise incorporated with ES can not only activate the affected limb but also enhance the brain re-organization, especially at early intervention time window. The brain reorganization can be further enhanced by extrinsic feedback and interaction to external cues such as given varied torque or speed. However, there is a lack of rehabilitation device on the bedside for the severely ill patient. In this project, an ES assisted cycling/cranking device with volitional EMG and ES-elicited muscle force biofeedback will be designed for early bedside training of stroke. Also, a power-assisted mode will be provided to assist the acute/subacute stroke patients whose muscles are usually too weak to propel the cycling/cranking ergometer and to provide resistance when the trained patients are gaining their muscle power.

It is believed that strong academic publications, advanced engineering technology, solid clinical trials as well as excellent ICT production capability should pave the way to a successful medical device. These should attract the companies to further invest in medical device industry and enter incubation center of Biomedical Science Park. The proposed device can be extended for critically ill patients or as a homecare active exercise for elderly subjects with great market potentials.



Figure 1. Electrical stimulation assisted cycling device


Figure 2. The FES cycling device for bedside use




(3)  Computerized Evaluation and Reeducation Biofeedback System