Title:
Apparatus for multi-joint lower limb exercise
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An apparatus for multi-joint lower limb exercise disclosed, which comprises: a first supporting part; a second supporting part, rotatably connected to the first supporting part; a driving device, connected to the second supporting part, for providing a driving force to push the second supporting part to rotate about the first supporting part while simultaneously providing a resistance exerting on the second supporting part for damping the rotation of the same. As a user is fitted with the aforesaid apparatus to perform a lower limb exercise, such as exercising its knee joint or ankle joint, a comparatively better exercise effect can be achieved as the driving force of the driving device is able to reinforce the lower limb exercise performed by the user no matter it is actively performed by the user or is passively driven by the driving device.



Inventors:
Yeh, Syh-shiuh (Taipei City, TW)
Chen, Meng-chun (Xuejia Town, TW)
Tseng, Kuo-shih (Taiping City, TW)
Tu, Mao-feng (Zhudong Town, TW)
Lin, Yang-hua (Linkou Shiang, TW)
Application Number:
11/385908
Publication Date:
06/21/2007
Filing Date:
03/22/2006
Assignee:
Industrial Technology Research Institute
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63B21/008
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:



Primary Examiner:
GINSBERG, OREN ISAAC
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
BRUCE H. TROXELL (SUITE 1404 5205 LEESBURG PIKE, FALLS CHURCH, VA, 22041, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. An apparatus for multi-joint lower limb exercise, adapted for supporting a lower limb of a user, comprising: a first supporting part; a second supporting part, rotatably connected to the first supporting part; and a driving device, connected to the second supporting part, for providing a driving force to push the second supporting part to rotate about the first supporting part.

2. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the first supporting part, further comprising: a rotatable frame; and a supporting frame with adjustable length, having an end thereof connected to the rotatable frame.

3. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the second supporting part includes a rotatable plate.

4. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the driving device, further comprising: at least a rotor wheel; a motor, for proving the driving force; and a steering booster, connected to the motor and each rotor wheel for controlling the rotation direction of each rotor wheel.

5. The apparatus of claim 4, wherein the motor is a constant-speed motor.

6. The apparatus of claim 4, wherein the motor is a variable-speed motor.

7. The apparatus of claim 1, further comprising a third supporting part, rotatably connected to the second supporting part.

8. The apparatus of claim 7, wherein the third supporting part, further comprising: a rotatable frame; and a supporting frame with adjustable length, having an end thereof connected to the rotatable frame.

9. An apparatus for multi-joint lower limb exercise, adapted for supporting a lower limb of a user, comprising: a first supporting part; a second supporting part, rotatably connected to the first supporting part; and a driving device, connected to the second supporting part, for proving a resistance exerting on the second supporting part for damping the rotation of the same.

10. The apparatus of claim 9, wherein the first supporting part, further comprising: a rotatable frame; and a supporting frame with adjustable length, having an end thereof connected to the rotatable frame.

11. The apparatus of claim 9, wherein the second supporting part includes a rotatable plate.

12. The apparatus of claim 9, wherein the driving device, further comprising: at least a rotor wheel; a motor, for providing the resistance; a steering booster, connected to the motor and each rotor wheel for controlling the rotation direction of each rotor wheel; and at least a force detector, each being arranged on a corresponding rotor wheel, for detecting and measuring the magnitude of a pushing force exerting on the second supporting part by the lower limb.

13. The apparatus of claim 12, wherein the motor is used to provide an adjustable torque resistance.;

14. The apparatus of claim 9, further comprising a third supporting part, rotatably connected to the second supporting part.

15. The apparatus of claim 14, wherein the third supporting part further comprises: a rotatable frame; and a supporting frame with adjustable length, having an end thereof connected to the rotatable frame.

16. The apparatus of claim 12, wherein each force detector, further comprising: a rotation shaft, connected to the rotor wheel by a bearing; an elastic member, arranged to ensheathe the rotation shaft; a rotation angle sensor, enabled to detect and measure a relative displacement angle between the rotor wheel and the rotation shaft; a coupling, connected to the rotation shaft and the rotation angle sensor; and a shaft sleeve, arranged to ensheathe the rotation shaft, the elastic member, and the coupling.

17. An apparatus for multi-joint lower limb exercise, adapted for supporting a lower limb of a user, comprising: a first supporting part; a second supporting part, rotatably connected to the first supporting part; and a driving device, connected to the second supporting part, for proving a resistance exerting on the second supporting part for damping the rotation of the same, the driving device further comprising: at least a rotor wheel; a motor, for providing the resistance; a steering booster, connected to the motor and each rotor wheel for controlling the rotation direction of each rotor wheel; and at least a force detector, each being arranged on a corresponding rotor wheel, for detecting and measuring the magnitude of a pushing force exerting on the second supporting part by the lower limb.

18. The apparatus of claim 17, wherein the first supporting part, further comprising: a rotatable frame; and a supporting frame with adjustable length, having an end thereof connected to the rotatable frame.

19. The apparatus of claim 17, wherein the second supporting part includes a rotatable plate.

20. The apparatus of claim 17, wherein the motor is used to provide an adjustable torque resistance.

21. The apparatus of claim 17, further comprising a third supporting part, rotatably connected to the second supporting part.

22. The apparatus of claim 21, wherein the third supporting part, further comprising: a rotatable frame; and a supporting frame with adjustable length, having an end thereof connected to the rotatable frame.

23. The apparatus of claim 17, wherein each force detector, further comprising: a rotation shaft, connected to the rotor wheel by a bearing; an elastic member, arranged to ensheathe the rotation shaft; a rotation angle sensor, enabled to detect and measure a relative displacement angle between the rotor wheel and the rotation shaft; a coupling, connected to the rotation shaft and the rotation angle sensor; and a shaft sleeve, arranged to ensheathe the rotation shaft, the elastic member, and the coupling.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to an apparatus for multi-joint lower limb exercise, and more particularly, to an exercise apparatus fitted to a lower limb of a user, capable of enabling the joints of the moving lower limb to perform an active or a passive exercise by controlling a specific driving device to push the moving limb to exercise at a constant velocity or to exert a torque resistance upon the moving limb.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Generally, most of the movements of human upper limb are to enable a person to complete a certain operation for controlling one's ambient environment while the lower limb movements are to enable the person to move around. That is, different limb movements are structured specifically with respect to complete different human activities. Therefore, the feature of most human upper limb movements is that they are structured to complete an operation is free space, and on the other hand, most lower limb movements are structured with a stable connection to the ground. It is known that intense and repetitive activities usually are the cause of physical injuries involving damage to bones and/or muscle tissues. It is also known that healing physical injuries such as fractures, exposed to an active exercise with permissible weight bearing stress while controlling the movement of the joints relating to the exercise to move correctly and properly, often heal more predictably and more rapidly than fractures which are not exposed-to any limb exercise. This is probably also true for preventing such physical injuries.

It is known that muscles are strengthened and their mass increased by repetitive contraction of the muscles actively under tension. When the muscle contracts, however, it shortens, thereby causing joint motion via the connective tendons which can stress the ligaments connecting the bony joint segments. However, a passive exercise is contrary to the aforesaid active exercise, that muscles are exercised without the contraction thereof and thus can not train the relating joints to exercise by the contraction of muscles. Conventionally, resistance training increases muscle strength by putting the muscles against an external pressure while contracting actively and repetitively, such as a weight training using dumbbell, sand bag, elastic rope or other weighting equipments. Although, the external pressure of such resistance training can be adjusted by the instruction of a professional coach, it lacks the ability of providing integrated trainings, such as walking. Recently, there are equipment designed for providing isokinetic training that allows the athlete to develop maximal muscle contraction throughout a given range of the movement and develops strength at variable speeds, i.e. it can detect when a muscle is speeding up, and increases the load to slow it down again. Nevertheless, those currently available equipments for isokinetic training are all too bulky and can not simulate actual human movements for training relating muscles and joints under such actual human movement. It is noted that there is an idea of employing robotic arms as intellectual training tools. However, those specifically designed robotic arms are still under experiment and are not available for progressive training or household training. In addition, the training tools especially designed for lower limb exercise, such as treadmill, exercise bicycle, or stepper, are all to bulky and heavy to be carried around.

The conventional lower limb exercises are either focused on excising knee joint or on ankle joint individually, which are not capable of exercising multiple joints relating to a lower limb movement, and are still employing traditional isotonic/isokinemic training mode while lacking a feedback mechanism for better controlling. Obviously, for the foregoing shortcomings, there is no available solution.

Therefore, it is in need of an exercise apparatus fitted to a lower limb of a user, capable of enabling the joints of the moving lower limb to perform an active or a passive exercise by controlling a specific driving device to push the moving lower limb to exercise at a constant velocity, i.e. controlling the rotation speed of a motor driving the lower limb to move accordingly, or to exert a torque resistance upon the moving lower limb, and moreover, the apparatus for multi-joint lower limb exercise, comparing to those of prior art, is capable of providing a multi-degree-of-freedom motion of active exercise that is portable, light-weight, and ease to maintain.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

It is the primary object of the present invention to provide an apparatus for multi-joint lower limb exercise, capable of enabling the ankle and knee of a user to be exercised at the same time by a multi-degree-of-freedom motion of active exercise.

It is another object of the present invention to provide a portable apparatus for multi-joint lower limb exercise, adapted for exercising the hip, the ankle and knee of a user.

It is another object of the present invention to provide an active exercise apparatus for joints, which can be adapted to exercise a user's joints no matter the user is lying, sitting or standing. Moreover, it can be adapted for matching the difficulties of a progressive training as required.

It is yet another object of the present invention to provide a motor with constant velocity control ability for pushing the lower limb to move at a constant velocity controlled by the adjustable rotation speed of the motor so as to enable the lower limb to be exercised passively.

It is further another object of the present invention to provide a motor capable of issuing an adjustable torque resistance exerting upon the moving lower limb so as to enable the lower limb to be exercised actively.

To achieve the above objects, the present invention provides an apparatus for multi-joint lower limb exercise, which comprises: a first supporting part; a second supporting part, rotatably connected to the first supporting part; and a driving device, connected to the second supporting part, for providing a driving force to push the second supporting part to rotate about the first supporting part.

Preferably, the first supporting part is further comprised of a rotatable frame and a supporting frame with adjustable length, having an end thereof connected to the rotatable frame. The second supporting part is further comprised of a rotatable plate. The driving device is further comprised of: at least a rotor wheel; a motor, for providing a driving force; and a steering booster, connect to the motor and each rotor wheel for controlling the rotation direction of each rotor wheel. Moreover, the motor can be constant-speed motor or a variable-speed motor.

Preferably, the apparatus for multi-joint lower limb exercise further comprises a third supporting part, rotatably connected to the second supporting part. The third supporting part further is comprised of a rotatable frame and a supporting frame with adjustable length, having an end thereof connected to the rotatable frame.

In a preferred embodiment of the invention, another apparatus for multi-joint lower limb exercise is provided, which comprises: a first supporting part; a second supporting part, rotatably connected to the first supporting part; and a driving device, connected to the second supporting part, for proving a resistance exerting on the second supporting part for damping the rotation of the same.

Preferably, the first supporting part is further comprised of a rotatable frame and a supporting frame with adjustable length, having an end thereof connected to the rotatable frame. The second supporting part is further comprised of a rotatable plate. The driving device is further comprised of: at least a rotor wheel; a motor, for providing an adjustable torque resistance; a steering booster, connected to the motor and each rotor wheel for controlling the rotation direction of each rotor wheel; and at least a force detector, each being arranged on a corresponding rotor wheel, for detecting and measuring the magnitude of a pushing force exerting on the second supporting part by the lower limb.

Preferably, the apparatus for multi-joint lower limb exercise further comprises a third supporting part, rotatably connected to the second supporting part. The third supporting part further is comprised of a rotatable frame and a supporting frame with adjustable length, having an end thereof connected to the rotatable frame.

Preferably, each force detector further comprises: a rotation shaft, an elastic member, a rotation angle sensor, a coupling, and a shaft sleeve; wherein the rotation shaft is connected to the rotor wheel by a bearing; the elastic member is arranged to ensheathe the rotation shaft; the rotation angle sensor is enabled to detect and measure the relative displacement angle between the rotor wheel and the rotation shaft; the coupling is connected to the rotation shaft and the rotation angle sensor; and the shaft sleeve is arranged to ensheathe the rotation shaft, the elastic member, and the coupling.

Other aspects and advantages of the present invention will become apparent from the following detailed description, taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, illustrating by way of example the principles of the present invention.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a schematic view of an apparatus for multi-joint lower limb exercise according to a first preferred embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 2 is a schematic view of a driving device arranged in the exercise apparatus of the first preferred embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 3 is a schematic view of an apparatus for multi-joint lower limb exercise according to a second preferred embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 4 is a schematic view of a driving device arranged in the exercise apparatus of the second preferred embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 5 is an exploded view of a force detector arranged in the exercise apparatus of the second preferred embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 6 is a schematic view of the force detector arranged in the exercise apparatus of the second preferred embodiment of the invention.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

For your esteemed members of reviewing committee to further understand and recognize the fulfilled functions and structural characteristics of the invention, several preferable embodiments cooperating with detailed description are presented as the follows.

Please refer to FIG. 1, which is a schematic view of an apparatus for multi-joint lower limb exercise according to a first preferred embodiment of the invention. The apparatus of FIG. 1 can be adapted to fit on a lower limb of a user for proving a driving force to the moving joints of the lower limb as the lower limb is subjected to a passive exercise. The apparatus for multi-joint lower limb exercise comprises a first support part 11, a second support part 12, a third support part 13, and a driving device 14.

The first supporting part 11 is comprised of a supporting frame 111 and a rotatable frame 112, that both are fitted to the outside of the shank of the user and are fixed thereto by a strap. The length of the first supporting part 11 can be adjusted to match with the length of the shank, that is, the supporting frame 1.11 of the first supporting part 11 is a device of retractable mechanism composed of guiding chutes and sliding rod which is connected to the rotatable frame 112 in a retractable manner for enabling the length of the first supporting part 11 to match the length of the shank.

The second supporting part 12 includes a rotatable plate 121, which has an upright panel 122 fixed thereon, whereas the upright panel 122 is pivotally connected to the rotatable frame 111 by a rotation axis 15, such that the rotatable, frame, 1 11 and the rotatable plate 121 will rotate about the rotation axis 15 as the ankle of the user is rotated. It is noted that a foot of the user can be placed on the rotatable plate 121 and is fixed thereto by a strap.

Similarly, The third-supporting part 13 is comprised of a supporting frame 131 and a rotatable frame 132, that both are fitted to the outside of the thigh of the user and are fixed thereto by a strap. Similarly, The length of the second supporting part 13 can also be adjusted to match with the length of the thigh, that is, the supporting frame 131 of the second supporting part 13 is a device of retractable mechanism composed of guiding chutes and sliding rod which is connected to the rotatable frame 132 in a retractable manner for enabling the length of the second supporting part 13 to match the length of the thigh. As the knee of the user is rotated, the rotatable frame 112 and the rotatable frame 132 will rotate about the rotation axis 16.

The driving device 14 is connected to the second supporting part 12 for providing a driving force to push the second supporting part 12 to rotate about the first supporting part 11. As seen in FIG. 1, the driving device 14 comprises a motor 141, a steering booster 142, and two rotor wheels 143, 144. Wherein, the motor 141 is acted as the power source of the driving device 14; the steering booster 142 is connected to the motor 141 and the two rotor wheels 143, 144 and is used for controlling the rotation direction of the two rotor wheels 143, 144. As the motor 141, placed underneath the rotatable plate 121, is operating, both the two rotor wheels 143, 144 are driven to rotate that brings along the rotatable plate 121 to rotate about the rotation axis 15. Moreover, since the foot, the shank, and the thigh of the lower limb are respectively fixed to the second supporting part 12, the first supporting part 11 and the third supporting part 13 by straps, the ankle, the knee and the hip are all being brought along to rotate by the lower limb exercise apparatus of FIG. 1, that is, the lower limb of the user is enabled to perform a passive exercise. Furthermore, the motor 141 can be a device selected from the group consisting of a constant-speed motor and a variable-speed motor, with respect to actual requirement of the user, such that the rotatable plate 121 can be controlled to rotated at a constant velocity or at varying speeds, for subjecting the user to various passive exercises of different strength.

Please refer to FIG. 2, which is a schematic view of a driving device arranged in the exercise apparatus of the first preferred embodiment of the invention. For facilitating a user to carry the lower limb exercise of the invention easily, an additional bottom panel 145 is arranged in the driving device 14 whereas the steering booster 142 is attached to the bottom of the bottom panel 145. By attaching the bottom panel 145 to the rotatable plate 121, the driving device 14 is fixedly connected to the structure of the lower limb exercise apparatus of FIG. 1. It is noted that the lower limb exercise apparatus can perform well by itself without the driving device 14, that the driving device 14 can be detached from the lower limb exercise apparatus easily by detaching the bottom panel 145 from the rotatable plate 121. The driving force provided by the motor 141 is transmitted to the two transmission shafts 146, 147 by the steering booster 142 which bring along the two rotor wheels 143, 144 to rotate, and further bring the bottom panel 145 and the rotatable plate 121 to rotate as well. Therefore, by the operation of the driving device 14, the joints of the lower limb of a user can be exercise effortlessly since it is brought to move by the driving device 14.

Please refer to FIG. 3, which is a schematic view of an apparatus for multi-joint lower limb exercise according to a second preferred embodiment of the invention. The apparatus of the second embodiment is adapted to fit on a lower limb of a user for proving a resistance to the moving joints of the lower limb as the lower limb is subjected to an active exercise. The apparatus for multi-joint lower limb exercise comprises a first support part 31, a second support part 32, a third support part 33, and a driving device 34.

The first supporting part 31 is comprised of a supporting frame 311 and a rotatable frame 312, that both are fitted to the outside of the shank of the user and are fixed thereto by a strap. The length of the first supporting part 31 can be adjusted to match with the length of the shank, that is, the supporting frame 311 of the first supporting part 31 is a device of retractable mechanism composed of guiding chutes and sliding rod which is connected to the rotatable frame 312 in a retractable manner for enabling the length of the first supporting part 31 to match the length of the shank.

The second supporting part 32 includes a rotatable plate 321, which has an upright panel 322 fixed thereon, whereas the upright panel 322 is pivotally connected to the rotatable frame 311 by a rotation axis 35, such that the rotatable frame 311 and the rotatable plate 321 will rotate about the rotation axis 35 as the ankle of the user is rotated. It is noted that a foot of the user can be placed on the rotatable plate 321 and is fixed thereto by a strap.

Similarly, The third supporting part 33 is comprised of a supporting frame 331 and a rotatable frame 332, that both are fitted to the outside of the thigh of the user and are fixed thereto by a strap. Similarly, The length of the second supporting part 33 can also be adjusted to match with the length of the thigh, that is, the supporting frame 331 of the second supporting part 33 is a device of retractable mechanism composed of guiding chutes and sliding rod which is connected to the rotatable frame 332 in a retractable manner for enabling the length of the second supporting part 33 to match the length of the thigh. As the knee of the user is rotated, the rotatable frame 312 and the rotatable frame 332 will rotate about the rotation axis 36.

The driving device 34 is connected to the second supporting part 32 for providing a resistance exerting on the second supporting part 32 for damping the rotation of the same. As seen in FIG. 3, the driving device 34 comprises a motor 341, a steering booster 342, two rotor wheels 343, 344, and two force detectors 345, 346. Wherein, the motor 341 is acted as the power source of the driving device 34; the steering booster 342 is connected to the motor 341 and the two rotor wheels 343, 344 and is used for controlling the rotation direction of the two rotor wheels 343, 344; the two force detectors 345, 346 are respectively arranged at the two rotor wheels 343, 344 for detecting and measuring the magnitude of a pushing force exerting on the second supporting part by the lower limb. As the motor 341 is capable of issuing a torque resistance for resisting the rotation of the motor shaft, the user must exercise his lower limb to exert a pushing force upon the rotatable plate 321 that is large enough to overcome the torque resistance so as to force the motor 241 to rotate and thus drive the two rotor wheels 343, 344, such that the lower limb of the user is enabled to perform an active exercise. Furthermore, the motor 141 can be a capable of issuing a torque resistance that is adjustable with respect to actual requirement of the user, such that the user must exercise his lower limb to exert a pushing force corresponding to the adjustable torque resistance of the motor so as to bring along the two rotor wheels 343, 344 to rotate as well. That is, the user is subjected to various active exercises of different strength.

Please refer to FIG. 4, which is a schematic view of a driving device arranged in the exercise apparatus of the second preferred embodiment of the invention. For facilitating a user to carry the lower limb exercise of the invention easily, an additional bottom panel 347 is arranged in the driving device 34 whereas the steering booster 342 is attached to the bottom of the bottom panel 347. By attaching the bottom panel 347 to the rotatable plate 321, the driving device 34 is fixedly connected to the structure of the lower limb exercise apparatus of FIG. 3. It is noted that the lower limb exercise apparatus can perform well by itself without the driving device 34, that the driving device 34 can be detached from the lower limb exercise apparatus easily by detaching the bottom panel 347 from the rotatable plate 321. As the user is exercising his lower limb to exert a pushing force on the bottom panel 347 and the rotatable plate 321, the two force detectors 345, 346 are capable of detecting and measuring the strength of the pushing force. As the detected strength reaches a specific value, that is, the pushing force is equal to the torque resistance defined by the motor 341, the motor 241 is forced to rotate and thus drive the two rotor wheels 343, 344 to rotate as well. Therefore, by enabling a user to exert force upon the apparatus of multi-joint lower limb exercise of; the invention, the lower limb exercise apparatus is forced to operate and thus the joints of the lower limb of a user is exercised actively.

Please refer to FIG. 5, which is an exploded view of a force detector arranged in the exercise apparatus of the second preferred embodiment of the invention. The force detector 51 comprises: a rotation shaft 511, an elastic member,512, a rotation angle sensor 515, a coupling 514, and a shaft sleeve 513. The assembling of the force detector 51, the rotor wheel 52 and a bearing 53 forms a rotor wheel with force detection ability. While assembling, the rotation shaft 511 is connected to the rotor wheel 52 through the bearing 53 for enabling the rotor wheel 52 to rotate freely with respect to the rotation shaft 511. The elastic member 512 is arranged between the rotation shaft 511 and the shaft sleeve 513 while fixing the shaft sleeve 513 onto the rotation shaft 511, such that the two ends of the elastic member are respectively connected to the rotation shaft 511 and the shaft sleeve 513 for enabling the rotor wheel 52 to connect to the rotation shaft 511 flexibly, and thus the relative displacement angle between the rotor wheel 52 and the rotation shaft 511 can be detected by the rotation angle sensor 515 fixedly attached to the shaft sleeve 513. The coupling 514 is used to connect the rotation angle sensor 515 to the rotation shaft 511. As the rotation shaft 511 is connected to the power source and is driven to rotate thereby, the resistance acting on the rotating rotor wheel 52 can be obtained from the relative displace angle between the rotor wheel 52 and the rotation shaft 511 with respect to the characteristics of the elastic member 512. As seen in FIG. 6, the assembling of the aforesaid rotor wheel, rotation shaft, elastic member, rotation angle sensor, coupling, and shaft sleeve, a rotor wheel with force detection ability 60 can be formed.

To sum up, the apparatus for multi-joint lower limb exercise employs a driving device as, a power source thereof, which is either used for providing an adjustable torque resistance to the moving lower limb, or for providing a driving force to drive the joints of the lower limb to move, such that a user fitted with the aforesaid apparatus either has to exert a force to overcome the torque resistance for performing the lower limb exercise actively or can be driven to exercise passively.

While the preferred embodiment of the invention has been set forth for the purpose of disclosure, modifications of the disclosed embodiment of the invention as well as other embodiments thereof may occur to those skilled in the art. Accordingly, the appended claims are intended to cover all embodiments which do not depart from the spirit and scope of the invention.