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Supernumerary Robotic Fingers as a Therapeutic Device for Hemiparetic Patients

[+] Author Affiliations
Teddy Ort, Faye Wu, Nicholas C. Hensel, H. Harry Asada

Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA

Paper No. DSCC2015-9945, pp. V002T27A010; 7 pages
  • ASME 2015 Dynamic Systems and Control Conference
  • Volume 2: Diagnostics and Detection; Drilling; Dynamics and Control of Wind Energy Systems; Energy Harvesting; Estimation and Identification; Flexible and Smart Structure Control; Fuels Cells/Energy Storage; Human Robot Interaction; HVAC Building Energy Management; Industrial Applications; Intelligent Transportation Systems; Manufacturing; Mechatronics; Modelling and Validation; Motion and Vibration Control Applications
  • Columbus, Ohio, USA, October 28–30, 2015
  • Conference Sponsors: Dynamic Systems and Control Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-5725-0
  • Copyright © 2015 by ASME


Patients with hemiparesis often have limited functionality in the left or right hand. The standard therapeutic approach requires the patient to attempt to make use of the weak hand even though it is not functionally capable, which can result in feelings of frustration. Furthermore, hemiparetic patients also face challenges in completing many bimanual tasks, for example walker manipulation, that are critical to patients’ independence and quality of life. A prototype therapeutic device with two supernumerary robotic fingers was used to determine if robotic fingers could functionally assist a human in the performance of bimanual tasks by observing the pose of the healthy hand. Specific focus was placed on the identification of a straightforward control routine which would allow a patient to carry out simple manipulation tasks with some intermittent input from a therapist. Part of this routine involved allowing a patient to switch between active and inactive monitoring of hand position, resulting in additional manipulation capabilities. The prototype successfully enabled a test subject to complete various bimanual tasks using the robotic fingers in place of normal hand motions. From these results, it is clear that the device could allow a hemiparetic patient to complete tasks which would previously have been impossible to perform.

Copyright © 2015 by ASME
Topics: Robotics



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