A Novel Clinical-Driven Design for Robotic Hand Rehabilitation: Combining Sensory Training, Effortless Setup, and Large Range of Motion in a Palmar Device

Raphael Ratz, François Conti, René M. Müri, L. Marchal Crespo

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Abstract

Neurorehabilitation research suggests that not only high training intensity, but also somatosensory information plays a fundamental role in the recovery of stroke patients. Yet, there is currently a lack of easy-to-use robotic solutions for sensorimotor hand rehabilitation. We addressed this shortcoming by developing a novel clinical-driven robotic hand rehabilitation device, which is capable of fine haptic rendering, and that supports physiological full flexion/extension of the fingers while offering an effortless setup. Our palmar design, based on a parallelogram coupled to a principal revolute joint, introduces the following novelties: (1) While allowing for an effortless installation of the user's hand, it offers large range of motion of the fingers (full extension to 180° flexion). (2) The kinematic design ensures that all fingers are supported through the full range of motion and that the little finger does not lose contact with the finger support in extension. (3) We took into consideration that a handle is usually comfortably grasped such that its longitudinal axis runs obliquely from the metacarpophalangeal joint of the index finger to the base of the hypothenar eminence. (4) The fingertip path was optimized to guarantee physiologically correct finger movements for a large variety of hand sizes. Moreover, the device possesses a high mechanical transparency, which was achieved using a backdrivable cable transmission. The transparency was further improved with the implementation of friction and gravity compensation. In a test with six healthy participants, the root mean square of the human-robot interaction force was found to remain as low as 1.37 N in a dynamic task. With its clinical-driven design and easy-to-use setup, our robotic device for hand sensorimotor rehabilitation has the potential for high clinical acceptance, applicability and effectiveness.
Original languageEnglish
Article number748196
Number of pages22
JournalFrontiers in Neurorobotics
Volume15
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Keywords

  • robotic hand rehabilitation
  • clinical acceptability
  • neurorehabilitation
  • sensorimotor
  • haptics
  • clinical- driven
  • grasp
  • transparency

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