A lightweight robotic glove to assist people suffering from loss of hand motor control to restore their ability to grasp objects independently
The majority of patients with partial or total loss of hand motor abilities, including those suffering from debilitating disorders like muscular dystrophy, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and incomplete spinal cord injury, experience greatly reduced quality of life due to their inability to perform many daily activities. Tasks often taken for granted by the able-bodied become frustrating and nearly impossible feats due to reduced gripping strength and motor control of the hand.
Advances at the Wyss Institute in designing wearable robotic systems and a powerful “from bench to bedside” translational approach have enabled the design of a soft robotic glove with potential end users being involved in every step of testing and development. The holistic approach ensures that technology development goes beyond achieving functionality as it also incorporates social and psychological elements of design that promote translation and seamless adoption by its intended end users.
To make the glove comfortable and natural feeling to wearers, over several iterations of design, the actuators powering the movements of the glove were made smaller and were modified to distribute forces more evenly over the wearer’s fingers and thumb. The resulting soft, multi-segment actuators, which are composite tubular constructions of Kevlar fibers and silicone elastomer, support the range of motions performed by biological fingers. The glove’s control system is portable and lightweight and can be worn using a waist belt or can be attached to a wheelchair.
The Soft Robotic Glove technology is available for licensing.