The National Stroke Association estimates that 795,000 strokes will occur this year, and that there are 7,000,000 stroke survivors in the United States over age 20. Approximately 50% of stroke patients lose some form of motor control, often in the hand.
Robotic training is a new technology that shows great potential for application in neurorehabilitation as it has several advantages e.g., motivation, adaptability, data collection, and the ability to provide intensive individualized repetitive practice. Studies on robotic devices for the upper extremity rehabilitation after stroke have shown significant increases in upper limb function, dexterity and fine motor manipulations as well as improved proximal motor control.
The HERRI hand rehabilitation system, developed at the Biomedical Mechatronics lab at Northeastern University, is composed of a 2-DoF robotic interface, virtual environment, practitioner’s graphical user interface (GUI), and the auxiliary control hardware/software. The patient manipulates the robotic hand interface just like a joystick to navigate in a virtual environment (i.e. maze game) while the robot applies force fields to the patient’s hand. The device is intended to aid motor recovery in post-stroke patients through repetitive and coordinated motions for task specific exercises.
To create a system that is feasible for market, a design team working in the Biomedical Mechatronics Lab at Northeastern University will develop the second generation prototype of the robotic upper extremity neurorehabilitation device. Necessary changes and updates to the system include a lower cost and simpler actuation system, new control software to accommodate the actuators, and handle redesign for better ergonomics, and the design of new games for improved user interface.
The team will focus first on a new actuation system, using electromechanical actuators to simplify the setup and reduce cost. Currently, the system is controlled by 2 electrorheological fluid actuators which interact with a user controlled handle. While this setup has excellent frequency response and little friction loss, it is an expensive system to implement, and should be redesigned to reduce size and cost.
In parallel to the actuator design, new designs for a more robust and ergonomic handle will be implemented to allow multiple hand rehabilitation exercises. Once the prototype is built, new controls will be implemented to allow assistive motion for flexion/extension of the hand and pronation/supination of the wrist.
Project outcome and impact of result
The outcome of this project will be an affordable, 2 DOF hand rehabilitation device, primarily for stroke patients but with potential to expand to orthopedic patients as well. Within 6 months, the team will have a functional prototype, beginning in July and having a completed prototype by December. Once the functional prototype is built, the device will be tested on healthy humans and patients in Spring 2013.
Since the device is non-intrusive nor attached to the user, it is inherently safe, and can be a viable option for market as a rehabilitation device in a home or clinical setting.
As a 2 DOF actuator, has potential not only in the field of rehabilitation, but could also serve as a valuable research tool for other applications in the game design, robotics, or medical fields.
The design team will consist of 5 Mechanical Engineering students Northeastern University. They are advised by Dr. Constantinos Mavroidis and Dr. Paolo Bonato, both leaders in the mechatronics field, as well as Dr. Mark Sivak, an expert in interactive media who designed the GUI of the 1st generation HERRI system.
For any further questions, contact:
Dr. Constantinos Mavroidis
Distinguished Professor, Northeastern University
Director, Biomedical Mechatronics Laboratory at Northeastern University
BS/MS Student, Northeastern University Biomechatronics Laboratory
Northeastern University Biomechatronics Laboratory
Boston, MA , United States