Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of Mechanical, Materials, Mechatronic and Biomedical Engineering


The upper limb rehabilitation robots have made it possible to improve the motor recovery in stroke survivors while reducing the burden on physical therapists. Compared to manual arm training, robot-supported training can be more intensive, of longer duration, repetitive and task-oriented. To be aligned with the most biomechanically complex joint of human body, the shoulder, specific considerations have to be made in the design of robotic shoulder exoskeletons. It is important to assist all shoulder degrees-of-freedom (DOFs) when implementing robotic exoskeletons for rehabilitation purposes to increase the range of motion (ROM) and avoid any joint axes misalignments between the robot and human’s shoulder that cause undesirable interaction forces and discomfort to the user.

The main objective of this work is to design a safe and a robotic exoskeleton for shoulder rehabilitation with physiologically correct movements, lightweight modules, self-alignment characteristics and large workspace. To achieve this goal a comprehensive review of the existing shoulder rehabilitation exoskeletons is conducted first to outline their main advantages and disadvantages, drawbacks and limitations. The research has then focused on biomechanics of the human shoulder which is studied in detail using robotic analysis techniques, i.e. the human shoulder is modelled as a mechanism. The coupled constrained structure of the robotic exoskeleton connected to a human shoulder is considered as a hybrid human-robot mechanism to solve the problem of joint axes misalignments. Finally, a real-scale prototype of the robotic shoulder rehabilitation exoskeleton was built to test its operation and its ability for shoulder rehabilitation.

FoR codes (2008)

091007 Manufacturing Robotics and Mechatronics (excl. Automotive Mechatronics), 0903 BIOMEDICAL ENGINEERING, 0913 MECHANICAL ENGINEERING



Unless otherwise indicated, the views expressed in this thesis are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Wollongong.