A robotic manipulator for the characterization of two-dimensional dynamic stiffness using stochastic displacement perturbations

Ana Maria Acosta, Robert F. Kirsch*, Eric J. Perreault

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Experimental techniques for estimating the two-dimensional dynamic stiffness of the human arm over a wide range of conditions have been developed. A robotic manipulator has been developed to create loads against which subjects perform various tasks and also to impose perturbations onto the endpoint of the arm to allow estimation of its mechanical properties. The manipulator can produce static endpoint forces exceeding 220 N in any direction in its plane of motion, and this plane can be vertically translated and tilted over wide ranges to study arm dynamic stiffness in many functionally relevant planes. It can impose stochastic position and force perturbations whose bandwidth exceeds that of the arm. These random perturbations avoid undesirable volitional reactions and allow the efficient estimation of stiffness dynamics using experimental trials of short duration. The ability of this manipulator to characterize inertial-viscoelastic systems was tested using several two-dimensional physical systems whose properties were independently characterized. The endpoint dynamic stiffness properties of a human arm were estimated as an example of the use of the manipulator in studying upper limb mechanical properties. The system properties characterized by these methods will be useful in probing normal neural arm control strategies and in developing rehabilitation interventions to improve arm movements in disabled individuals. Copyright (C) 2000 Elsevier Science B.V.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)177-186
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Neuroscience Methods
Issue number2
StatePublished - Oct 30 2000


  • Endpoint stiffness
  • Human arm
  • Motor control
  • Multi-joint
  • Neuromuscular
  • Robot manipulator
  • Stochastic perturbations
  • Viscoelasticity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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