Stability Enhanced Assistive Lift for the Elderly (SEALE)

Osunfisan, Obafemi, Matt Butkovich, Mark Fazi, Sandy Yost, Mohan Krishnan, and Nassif Rayess

The poster describes a novel assistive device called the Stability Enhanced Assistive Lift for the Elderly (SEALE). The SEALE was developed in response to the expressed needs of an elderly woman who lives in her own home and sometimes needs help to get up off the floor or from a chair.  It consists of a lifting harness that is instrumented with pressure and load sensors and pulled by two winching motors attached to a bariatric walker.  The lifting force is designed to always be less than the weight of the patient.  The pressure and load signals are used to determine the posture and location of the patient and thus allow for sophisticated differential controls of the motors in order to help the patient maintain his/her vertical stability and prevent falling or tipping.  As the patient attempts to lift him/herself, the robot senses a drop in the harness tension and/or the contact pressure and engages the motors to wind-up the harness.  Handholds allow the patient to incrementally lift him/herself with the assistance of the motors.  The salient feature of this approach is that it allows the patient to expand most of his/her diminished strength to stabilize him/herself while the SEALE lift system provides a large portion of the lifting force.  The SEALE was developed initially as a class project in the graduate level Sensors and Actuators course.  The SEALE was awarded the second place prize at the Robotics Innovations Competition and Conference (RICC) at the Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) on November 7-8, 2009 (http://ricc.wpi.edu).