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BioMed Central

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Journal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation

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Original Item ID

doi: 10.1186/1743-0003-4-7; PubMed Central: PMCID 1847448



Robotic therapy is at the forefront of stroke rehabilitation. The Activities of Daily Living Exercise Robot (ADLER) was developed to improve carryover of gains after training by combining the benefits of Activities of Daily Living (ADL) training (motivation and functional task practice with real objects), with the benefits of robot mediated therapy (repeatability and reliability). In combining these two therapy techniques, we seek to develop a new model for trajectory generation that will support functional movements to real objects during robot training. We studied natural movements to real objects and report on how initial reaching movements are affected by real objects and how these movements deviate from the straight line paths predicted by the minimum jerk model, typically used to generate trajectories in robot training environments. We highlight key issues that to be considered in modelling natural trajectories.


Movement data was collected as eight normal subjects completed ADLs such as drinking and eating. Three conditions were considered: object absent, imagined, and present. This data was compared to predicted trajectories generated from implementing the minimum jerk model. The deviations in both the plane of the table (XY) and the saggital plane of torso (XZ) were examined for both reaches to a cup and to a spoon. Velocity profiles and curvature were also quantified for all trajectories.


We hypothesized that movements performed with functional task constraints and objects would deviate from the minimum jerk trajectory model more than those performed under imaginary or object absent conditions. Trajectory deviations from the predicted minimum jerk model for these reaches were shown to depend on three variables: object presence, object orientation, and plane of movement. When subjects completed the cup reach their movements were more curved than for the spoon reach. The object present condition for the cup reach showed more curvature than in the object imagined and absent conditions. Curvature in the XZ plane of movement was greater than curvature in the XY plane for all movements.


The implemented minimum jerk trajectory model was not adequate for generating functional trajectories for these ADLs. The deviations caused by object affordance and functional task constraints must be accounted for in order to allow subjects to perform functional task training in robotic therapy environments. The major differences that we have highlighted include trajectory dependence on: object presence, object orientation, and the plane of movement. With the ability to practice ADLs on the ADLER environment we hope to provide patients with a therapy paradigm that will produce optimal results and recovery.


Published version. Journal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation, Vol. 4, No. 7 (2007): 7-20. DOI. © 2007 Wisneski and Johnson; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License.