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J Rehabil Assist Technol Eng. 2019 Sep 6;6:2055668319866311. doi: 10.1177/2055668319866311. eCollection 2019 Jan-Dec.

Improving short-term retention after robotic training by leveraging fixed-gain controllers.

Author information

1
Department of Mechanical Engineering, Rice University, Houston, TX, USA.
2
Department of Mechanical Engineering, Stanford University, Stanford, CA, USA.

Abstract

Introduction:

When developing control strategies for robotic rehabilitation, it is important that end-users who train with those strategies retain what they learn. Within the current state-of-the-art, however, it remains unclear what types of robotic controllers are best suited for promoting retention. In this work, we experimentally compare short-term retention in able-bodied end-users after training with two common types of robotic control strategies: fixed- and variable-gain controllers.

Methods:

Our approach is based on recent motor learning research, where reward signals are employed to reinforce the learning process. We extend this approach to now include robotic controllers, so that participants are trained with a robotic control strategy and auditory reward-based reinforcement on tasks of different difficulty. We then explore retention after the robotic feedback is removed.

Results:

Overall, our results indicate that fixed-gain control strategies better stabilize able-bodied users' motor adaptation than either a no controller baseline or variable-gain strategy. When breaking these results down by task difficulty, we find that assistive and resistive fixed-gain controllers lead to better short-term retention on less challenging tasks but have opposite effects on the learning and forgetting rates.

Conclusions:

This suggests that we can improve short-term retention after robotic training with consistent controllers that match the task difficulty.

KEYWORDS:

Robot-assisted rehabilitation; control systems; haptic device; motor learning; neurorehabilitation

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