|dc.description.abstract||Background: Many older Americans suffer from long-term upper limb dysfunction, decreased grip strength, and/or a reduced ability to hold objects due to injuries and a variety of age-related illnesses. The objective of this study was to design and build a five-fingered powered assistive exoskeleton for the human hand, and to validate its ability to augment the gripping and pinching efforts of the wearer and assist in performing ADLs.
Methods: The exoskeleton device was designed using CAD software and 3-D printed in ABS. Each finger’s movement efforts were individually monitored by a force sensing resistor at each fingertip, and proportionally augmented via the microcontroller-based control scheme, linear actuators, and rigid exoskeleton structure. The force production of the device and the force augmenting capability were assessed on ten healthy individuals with one 5-digit grasping test, three pinching tests, and two functional tests.
Results: Use of the device significantly decreased the forearm muscle activity necessary to maintain a grasping effort (67%, p<0.001), the larger of two pinching efforts (30%, p<0.05), and the palmer pinching effort (67%, p<0.001); however, no benefit by wearing the device was identified while maintaining a minimal pinching effort or attempting one of the functional tests.
Conclusion: The exoskeleton device allowed subjects to maintain independent control of each digit, and while wearing the exoskeleton, in both the unpowered and powered states, subjects were able to grasp, hold, and move objects such as a water bottle, bag, smartphone, or dry-erase marker.||en_US