Design and preliminary evaluation of a tongue-operated exoskeleton system for upper limb rehabilitation

Academic Article


  • Stroke is a devastating condition that may cause upper limb paralysis. Robotic rehabilitation with self-initiated and assisted movements is a promising technology that could help restore upper limb function. Previous studies have established that the tongue motion can be used to communicate human intent and control a rehabilitation robot/assistive device. The goal of this study was to evaluate a tongue-operated exoskeleton system (TDS-KA), which we have developed for upper limb rehabilitation. We adopted a tongue-operated assistive technology, called the tongue drive system (TDS), and interfaced it with the exoskeleton KINARM. We also developed arm reaching and tracking tasks, controlled by different tongue operation modes, for training and evaluation of arm motor function. Arm reaching and tracking tasks were tested in 10 healthy participants (seven males and three females, 23–60 years) and two female stroke survivors with upper extremity impairment (32 and 58 years). All healthy and two stroke participants successfully performed the tasks. One stroke subject demonstrated a clinically significant improvement in Fugl-Meyer upper extremity score after practicing the tasks in six 3-h sessions. We conclude that the TDS-KA system can accurately translate tongue commands to exoskeleton arm movements, quantify the function of the arm, and perform rehabilitation training.
  • Authors

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Zhang Z; Prilutsky BI; Butler AJ; Shinohara M; Ghovanloo M
  • Volume

  • 18
  • Issue

  • 16