Assistive and rehabilitation robotics

Project Leader: Denny Oetomo
Staff: Iven Mareels, Denny Oetomo, Ying Tan, Vincent Crocher, David Ackland, Shou-Han Zhou
Student: Justin Fong, Gijo Sebastian
Collaborators: Mary Galea (Medicine), Fary Khan (Medicine), Frank Vetere (Computing and Information Systems), Marlena Klaic (Melbourne Health), Etienne Burdet (Imperial College, London), Chris Freeman (University of Southampton, UK)
Sponsors: Australian Research Council
Primary Contact: Denny Oetomo (
Keywords: biomedical engineering; computational neuroscience; control and signal processing; machine learning; physiotherapy
Disciplines: Mechanical Engineering
Domains: Convergence of engineering and IT with the life sciences

This project focuses on the study of robotics technology in the clinical rehabilitation of people with motion impairment, such as in post-stroke patients. The scope also includes the study of human motor systems in the case of motor adaptation and skill learning in healthy human subjects. 
This research is conducted in collaboration with the Royal Melbourne Hospital and the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry, and Health Sciences (Professor Mary Galea and Professor Fary Khan). Within the Melbourne School of Engineering, this also involves the Biomechanics team (Dr David Ackland) as well as the Microsoft Social Natural User Interface team led by Professor Frank Vetere, studying the use of wearable sensors.  Internationally, this project collaborates with Professor Etienne Burdet (Imperial College, London) and Associate Professor Chris Freeman (University of Southampton, UK).
The study focuses on the modelling of clinical mechanisms in motion generation and impairment from the engineering perspective. Fundamental engineering topics, such as the computational model of human motor control and motor learning, are greatly leveraged. In this aspect of the project, the human motor systems behaviour in achieving task execution and skill learning is studied through the use of fundamental engineering models, especially control theory. Practical aspects of the project also involve the evaluation of robotics systems coupled with engineering techniques for patient assessment. The outcomes are applied to rehabilitation robotics in order to provide a rigorous analysis of the strategies used. 
Currently facilities include:
  • An Armeo Power (Hocoma, Switzerland) rehabilitation robot, currently located at the Royal Melbourne Hospital, Royal Park campus, to be used by (and to gather data from) patients in the clinic.
  • The Joint UoM-RMH Movement Laboratory, with Vicon Motion Capture system, force plate and EMG sensors, located at the Royal Melbourne Hospital, Royal Park campus.
  • A planar 2 DoF robotic manipulandum for Human Motor Control experiment on healthy subjects, located at the Melbourne School of Engineering, Parkville.