Toward wearable supernumerary robotic fingers to compensate missing grasping abilities in hemiparetic upper limb

Irfan Hussain, Giovanni Spagnoletti, Gionata Salvietti, Domenico Prattichizzo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations

Abstract

This paper presents the design, analysis, fabrication, experimental characterization, and evaluation of two prototypes of robotic extra fingers that can be used as grasp compensatory devices for a hemiparetic upper limb. The devices are the results of experimental sessions with chronic stroke patients and consultations with clinical experts. Both devices share a common principle of work, which consists in opposing the device to the paretic hand or wrist so to restrain the motion of an object. They can be used by chronic stroke patients to compensate for grasping in several activities of daily living (ADLs) with a particular focus on bimanual tasks. The robotic extra fingers are designed to be extremely portable and wearable. They can be wrapped as bracelets when not being used, to further reduce the encumbrance. Both devices are intrinsically compliant and driven by a single actuator through a tendon system. The motion of the robotic devices can be controlled using an electromyography-based interface embedded in a cap. The interface allows the user to control the device motion by contracting the frontalis muscle. The performance characteristics of the devices have been measured experimentally and the shape adaptability has been confirmed by grasping various objects with different shapes. We tested the devices through qualitative experiments based on ADLs involving five chronic stroke patients. The prototypes successfully enabled the patients to complete various bimanual tasks. Results show that the proposed robotic devices improve the autonomy of patients in ADLs and allow them to complete tasks that were previously impossible to perform.

Original languageBritish English
Pages (from-to)1414-1436
Number of pages23
JournalInternational Journal of Robotics Research
Volume36
Issue number13-14
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2017

Keywords

  • assistive devices
  • robotic extra-limbs
  • supernumerary fingers
  • Wearable robotics

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