[Abstract] The wearable hand robot: supporting impaired hand function in activities of daily living and rehabilitation

Abstract

Our hands are very important in our daily life. They are used for non-verbal communication and sensory feedback, but are also important to perform both fine (e.g. picking up paperclips) and gross (e.g. lifting heavy boxes) motor tasks. Decline of hand function in older adults as a result of age-related loss of muscle mass (i.e. sarcopenia) and/or age-related diseases such as stroke, rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis, is a common problem worldwide. The decline in hand function, in particular grip strength, often results in increased difficulties in performing activities of daily living (ADL), such as carrying heavy objects, doing housework, (un)dressing, preparing food and eating.
New developments, based on the concept of wearable soft-robotic devices, make it possible to support impaired hand function during the performance of daily activities and intensive task-specific training. The ironHand and HandinMind systems are examples of such novel wearable soft-robotic systems that have been developed in the ironHand and HandinMind projects. Both systems are developed to provide grip support during a wide range of daily activities. The ironHand system consists of a 3-finger wearable soft-robotic glove, tailored to older adults with a variety of physical age-related hand function limitations. The HandinMind system consists of a 5-finger wearable soft-robotic glove, dedicated towards application in stroke. In both cases, the wearable soft-robotic system could be connected to a computer with custom software to train specific aspects of hand function in a motivating game-like environment with multiple levels of difficulty. By adding the game environment, an assistive device is transformed into a dedicated training device.
The aim of the current thesis is to define user requirements, to investigate feasibility and to evaluate the direct and clinical effects of a wearable soft-robotic system that is developed to support impaired hand function of older adults and stroke patients in a wide range of daily activities and in exercise training at home.

via The wearable hand robot: supporting impaired hand function in activities of daily living and rehabilitation — University of Twente Research Information

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