A lot of people suffer from weakening conditions that make their hands practically useless. An engineering team at Harvard has come up with a smart powered glove that can make a weak, poorly coordinated hand stronger and more capable.
The team said that the glove could be tailored to individual patients needs. The technology can be rolled out to people with Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, and other diseases.
The device has soft actuators made from Kevlar and silicone that work together to close the fingers of the hand. The strength that is delivered to each finger is programmed to compensate for the patient's unique disability. This results in natural control, sufficient strength, and a proper range of motion.
"From the start of this project, we've focused on understanding the real-world challenges facing these patients by visiting them in their homes to perform research," said Walsh, who is Assistant Professor of Mechanical and Biomedical Engineering and founder of the Harvard Biodesign Lab at SEAS, and a Wyss Institute Core Faculty member.
The developers are now attempting to integrate electromyography (EMG) sensors that can be used to trigger the glove a lot more accurately in terms of the user's intentions.
"We are continuing to test the design of the soft robotic glove on patients, in relation to making it customizable for the specific pathologies of each individual and understanding what control strategies work best - but we're already seeing a lot of exciting proof-of-concept experimental results," said Walsh.