Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Thesis Format



Master of Engineering Science


Biomedical Engineering

Collaborative Specialization

Musculoskeletal Health Research


Trejos, Ana Luisa


Neck pain is the most common neck musculoskeletal disorder, and the fourth leading cause of healthy years lost due to disability in the world. Due to the need of hands-on physical therapy and Canada’s aging population, access to treatment will become highly constrained. Wearable devices that allow at-home rehabilitation address this future limitation. However, few have emerged from the laboratory setting because they are limited by the use of conventional actuators. An overlooked type of actuation technology is that of piezoelectric actuators, more specifically, travelling wave ultrasonic motors (TWUM).

In this work, a clear procedure that outlines how the required parameters within the hybrid TWUM model can be identified, as well as an assessment of the use of TWUMs within wearable devices for the neck, is presented. The procedure includes custom testing setups that were designed to identify the stator motion parameters, and the Coulomb coefficient of friction. The accuracy of the determined parameters were confirmed when the angular velocity of the hybrid model at different duty cycles was compared to the real TWUM being modelled, producing a coefficient of determination of 0.974. The model was then used to create a position control system that controlled the joints of a virtual robotic manipulator that modelled the neck. The manipulator exhibited a maximum absolute mean error of only 0.0289 m when simulating the required trajectories of range of motion exercises. This performance, in addition to the exemplary traits TWUMs express, demonstrate their potential to advance the field of wearable mechatronic devices.

Summary for Lay Audience

Neck pain is the fourth leading cause of healthy years lost due to disability in the world. Standard treatment requires specialized exercises from a physical therapist. However, access to therapists is already challenging and will become even more so as life expectancy continues to increase. At-home therapy addresses these limitations but requires device improvements. Few devices have emerged from the lab setting due to the use of traditional actuators. These actuators require excessive power, are heavy, obtrusive, and are not designed for human interaction. This ultimately prevents the devices from being wearable.

In this work, the use of piezoelectric travelling wave ultrasonic motors within wearable devices for neck therapy is assessed. First, a list of the physical constants that dictate the performance of the motor, and how they can be determined, is presented. This information is then used to create a model of an ultrasonic motor, along with a position control system. Finally, the control system is used within a virtual neck model, and its ability to replicate neck motion during therapy exercises is analyzed. The results obtained, along with the qualities that ultrasonic motors have, suggest that they have great potential within wearable devices and should be explored further.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.