This internship is divided into two different projects, a hand exerciser and a toy-like assistive device one. These projects are thought to assist the rehabilitation of patients that lost, partially or completely, their upper limb mobility.
To work on these projects a team of three intern students was made by the company. We all worked together since the beginning until the end of this internship. The idea generation and concept development for each project was done by brainstorming and team session meetings. We followed a traditional design assignment structure.
In the case of the first project, two final ideas were proposed to generate the desired rehabilitation. These devices are assembled on a robotic arm-skate already developed by the company before the beginning of this internship. They both promote the hand grasp/release and the arm pronation/supination movements. These prototypes are printed in poli-lactic acid (PLA) due to its reduced price and good material properties. They were designed in SolidWorks 2016 CAD program. A microprocessor based on Arduino UNO was used to control the system and its electrical components (such as motors and resistors). These motors actively drive the device to generate such movements on the patient.
In the case of the second project, a final Toy device was developed. This final product is thought to assist hand detailed and arm bulk movements on the patient. It has 10 special features that resemble daily actions that these patients may require to recover after suffering from a stroke. Actions such as opening a door knob or sliding a zipper are introduced in this device. The same material, production process and microprocessor used for the first project was used in this one. In that case, it is not an active but a passive device that waits for the patient to actuate on it. It doesn’t generate any active movement on any part of the patient’s body.
After the products were developed, several validation processes were followed. Every week a stroke patient came to the company to undergo his rehabilitation and test these devices. His feedback was used during the entire process to improve the performance of the devices. After that, a group of medical specialists came to the company to validate the ideas and products once they were finished and completely functional. Some extra recommendations and ideas were extracted from that validation sessions. These can be applied for further improvement and analysis on the prototypes.