Assistive Exoskeleton Device for the Human Hand


Every year, thousands of Americans experience pathological and traumatic events that result in loss of dexterity and strength of the hand. Although many supportive devices have been designed to restore functional hand movement, most are very complex and expensive. The goal of this project is to design and implement a cost-effective, electrically powered exoskeleton for the human hand that improves grasping strength. A 3-D printed thermoplastic exoskeleton that allows for independent movement of all the fingers will be constructed. Five force sensing resistors will be located on the lower inner surface of each fingertip which will be used to proportionally activate five linear actuators, one motor per finger, as a function of finger force applied to the sensor. In addition, a 3-D printed structure will be designed to house the five motors, an Arduino-based control system, and a power supply. The device will be tested on healthy human subjects. The tests will include a recording of the user’s grip strength using a force dynamometer and a force-sensing glove with an electromyography of the grasping muscles in the forearm. The goal for the tests will be to show that the activation of the motor control system will significantly reduce the muscle effort needed to maintain a grasping effort. The objective of the study is to create a 5-finger, glove-like exoskeleton for the human hand to augment the strength of the hand while structurally supporting the hand.