Soft, Lightweight Wearable Robots to Support the Upper Limb in Activities of Daily Living: A Feasibility Study on Chronic Stroke Patients
- Journal Article
Rights / licenseCreative Commons Attribution 4.0 International
Stroke can be a devastating condition that impairs the upper limb and reduces mobility. Wearable robots can aid impaired users by supporting performance of Activities of Daily Living (ADLs). In the past decade, soft devices have become popular due to their inherent malleable and low-weight properties that makes them generally safer and more ergonomic. In this study, we present an improved version of our previously developed gravity-compensating upper limb exosuit and introduce a novel hand exoskeleton. The latter uses 3D-printed structures that are attached to the back of the fingers which prevent undesired hyperextension of joints. We explored the feasibility of using this integrated system in a sample of 10 chronic stroke patients who performed 10 ADLs. We observed a significant reduction of 30.3 +/- 3.5% (mean +/- standard error), 31.2 +/- 3.2% and 14.0 +/- 5.1% in the mean muscular activity of the Biceps Brachii (BB), Anterior Deltoid (AD) and Extensor Digitorum Communis muscles, respectively. Additionally, we observed a reduction of 14.0 +/- 11.5%, 14.7 +/- 6.9% and 12.8 +/- 4.4% in the coactivation of the pairs of muscles BB and Triceps Brachii (TB), BB and AD, and TB and Pectoralis Major (PM), respectively, typically associated to pathological muscular synergies, without significant degradation of healthy muscular coactivation. There was also a significant increase of elbow flexion angle (12.1 +/- 1.5 degrees). These results further cement the potential of using lightweight wearable devices to assist impaired users. Show more
Journal / seriesIEEE Transactions on Neural Systems and Rehabilitation Engineering
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