While a wide variety of computer-controlled exercise machines for training and rehabilitation exist — some of which can be automatically adjusted to vary resistance or incline — such systems provide for preprogrammed changes in load or resistance. What is needed is a system that overcomes the limitations of the existing robotic rehabilitation systems by providing a training and/or rehabilitation system that adapts a resistance or force applied to a user-interactive element in response to the user's interaction.

Computer-assisted exercise equipment was developed that adapts a resistance or force applied to a user-interactive element in response to the user's interaction. The system uses a computer and exercise equipment configured with an electric motor. The computer-controlled robotic resistance system or mechanical resistance training system is used for strength training, physical therapy, rehabilitation, and/or medical diagnosis.

The resistance system comprises a user interface, software control, controller, electric motor, electric servo assist/resist motor, variable-speed motor, actuator, and/or user sensor. The resistance system is adaptable to multiple configurations to provide different types of training.

The system significantly advances neuromuscular function as it is adaptable to a level of resistance or applied force; for example, the system optionally uses biomechanical feedback, motorized aerobic conditioning, strength training, and a computer-programmed workout.

The system optionally provides for an automatic reconfiguration and/or adaptive load adjustment based upon real-time measurement of a user's interaction with the system or sensor-based observation by the exercise system as it is operated by the user. The exercise system optionally provides resistance and/or assistance to a motion of the user interface such as a weightlifting bar or crank system.

The user enters a program into the system and alters the resistance within a repetition or between repetitions. The user is sensed by sensors in the resistance system and/or is recognized by the resistance system, such as through wireless means. The program can be predetermined, has preset options, is configurable to a specific subject, changes resistance dynamically based on sensor input, and/or changes resistance based on user input. Optional sensors provide feedback information about the user and/or the state of a current exercise movement such as position of a movable element of the resistance system, a force applied to a portion of the exercise system, and the user's heart rate, and/or blood pressure.

This work was done by David Paulus, James Shaw, Alton Reich, and Stelu Deaconu of Streamline Automation LLC for Johnson Space Center. For more information, contact Streamline Automation at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 256-713-1220.

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This article first appeared in the March, 2019 issue of Tech Briefs Magazine.

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