212 E Lafayette Ave
Baltimore, MD 21202
PI: Rafael Casas, PhD
HHS ACL NIDILRR – 93.433 SBIR Phase I
Wearable hand exoskeletons for rehabilitation of function after stroke
Functional improvement of the upper paretic limb after stroke is mainly determined by improvement of the paretic hand, yet restoration of hand function after stroke often lags behind the restoration of more proximal joints, and impairments are often resistant to therapeutic intervention. Currently, the probability of regaining functional use of the impaired hand is low. Most individuals with stroke regain the ability to flex the fingers voluntarily, but recovery of voluntary extension is limited. In this SBIR project, we further develop the HandSOME exoskeleton for eventual commercialization. HandSOME uses elastic bands to assist with hand extension, with the most recent version using 11 separate bands to customize extension assistance to the fingers and thumb. In many individuals, the ability to grasp and release objects is restored when wearing HandSOME. In this project, we will develop new prototypes of HandSOME that decrease the complexity of the design, increase the peak torque that can be applied, and decrease the time to don the device. In the testing phase, 15 individuals with chronic stroke will be evaluated for usability and functional gains when wearing the new prototypes. The long-term goal is the development of a very low-cost device that can be used as an assistive device during ADL, but in the process of daily use, promotes neurorehabilitation of hand motor control.