Robotic Hand Exoskeleton

Physical Sciences : Mechanical

Available for licensing

Inventor

  • Ashish Deshpande , Mechanical Engineering

Background/unmet need

Robotic human-worn exoskeleton systems provide a promising avenue for assisting stroke patients to recover motor function and for easing the burden of labor intensive, highly repetitive, and costly, conventional physical therapy.

Only a handful of robotic devices exist for hand rehabilitation. Most of these devices are designed for the rehabilitation of the lower body, whereas this innovative robotic exoskeleton will assist and provide a full spectrum of hand movements. Typically, existing devices only support one or two joints, but this device will assist many joints leading to complete hand motions.

Invention Description

Researchers at UT Austin have developed a robotic hand exoskeleton that provides assistance and resistance to stroke patients during rehabilitation therapy sessions. The robot will provide programmable support for hand movement, giving the patient the freedom to move without any effort or resistance to motion.

The robotic hand exoskeleton contains the most joint actuators of any current technology and provides a full range of hand motions to the patient. This allows therapists to apply precise movement and forces to the subject.  The kinematics and actuation of the robot design ensure safe, comfortable and natural interaction with the user. These comfortable and safe interactions could lead to the possibility of prolonged, multi-faceted therapy, and even other commercial uses to restore hand function.

Benefits/Advantages

  • Safe and comfortable interactions with patient
  • Large number of joints supported, thus allowing for rehabilitation of upper body
  • Position and force control capabilities for more effective therapy
  • Fast controls scheme for safety and performance

Features

  • Assistance and resistance during therapy
  • A remote actuation system for flexibility
  • A large number of joints for the patient are supported
  • Comfortable pulling force on the fingers
  • Very high frequency of control loops 

Market potential/applications

Markets for this device include medical robotics companies; hospitals and physical therapy centers; manufacturing industry; military; and NASA.

Development Stage

Lab/bench prototype

IP Status

  • 1 U.S. patent application filed

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