P10007: Mechanical Spine Platform

Dr. Brown-April 3 2009

Interview with Dr. Edward Brown

First Sponsor Interview
Interviewers: Jeff Rebmann, Rochelle Perry, and Yi Xie
Interviewee: Dr. Edward Brown
Date: 1 April 2009, Dr. Brown's Office 09-3175

Interviewer(s): First we would like to introduce ourselves - Jeff Rebmann, Rochelle Perry, and Yi Xie. We are with the DPM class for this quarter.
Would you please introduce yourself as well?
Dr. Brown: I am Dr. Brown and I am a professor with the Electrical Engineering department here at RIT. I have been involved with some MSD project in the recent past.
Interviewer(s): How much were you involved in the Motion Tracking project?
Dr. Brown: I was both the guide and the customer. It was based upon my research.
Interviewer(s): What is the history of that project?
Dr. Brown: My research is in human-robot interaction for rehabilitation purposes. I wanted to come up with a device for extracting upper extremity motion behavior in the context of physiological and biomechanical information. I am interested in the electromyographic signal from a person's skin due to muscle contraction. This is the electrical signal sent from the muscles when a contraction occurs. I also wanted biomechanical information from the elbow joint and the shoulder rotation. There were three degrees of freedom for the system: one for the elbow motion in the vertical plane, one for the shoulder in the vertical plane, and one for the shoulder in the horizontal (rotating) plane. This is project P09027 from this past quarter and it was just finished. Some of my main goals were to extract information in a meaningful way and also have a nice graphical user interface. For a project similar to this one, you would need at least two mechanical engineers, two computer engineers, and two electrical engineers. This will most likely not cover all the needs from a technical standpoint, however everybody should learn each others skill sets. This could also be the case if you are not able to obtain all the necessary people for your MSD team.
Interviewer(s): How was the information from the project captured?
Dr. Brown: Much of the information was collected suing potentiometers to map map voltage from the system. We bought an EMG machine in order to shorten development time. With the device came software to run on a computer. In order to build an amplifier like that would have been a poject in itself, taking too much time. We chose and off the shelf model: Bio-Radio from Cleveland Medical for $6,000.
My main application was for my robot. I wanted to map the arm movement from a person to my robot. When the person moved their arm, my robot would move the same arm with the same human characteristics. It wasn't until the project was completed that we beagn to look for additional applications for the GUI and device. For it to be incorporated in more MSD project, a more diverse team would be needed to make it more robust. For example, an industrial engineer would be helpful for creating ergonomic designs.
Interviewer(s): Where does the project currently stand?
Dr. Brown: It is basically completed. It doesn't require any more work except for the software. It works correctly, but it needs some more tweaking because it tends to crash.
Interviewer(s): Are you interested in furthering this project?
Dr. Brown: For now, the project is good. There are many possible applications for this type of work in the future. There was not anything like it on the market for a reasonable price, and it integrated many different skill sets.
Interviewer(s): Could we integrate this with the Upper Extremity Exerciser?
Dr. Brown: For that, you would needs sensors, but most likely not all the sensors that this project offered. Most likely it would be mechanical feedback that you would be interested collecting, not EMG. That would make it much cheaper than this project. We used a software called QT to support our system. It was developed by our computer engineer.