Cerebral Palsy (CP) is a birth related brain injury affecting functional activities of persons throughout the life span. Many children with CP have some form of upper extremity limitations. Reduced function of the hands hinder dressing, personal hygiene, and use of assistive devices, resulting in greater dependency, restricted social participation, and a decreased quality of life. Recent investigations have indicated that the brain is capable of reorganizing itself through targeted use. Functional recovery requires repeated practice, however traditional therapy sessions are inadequate in duration and intensity. Soft robotic devices show promise as a therapy extender needed for motor learning. No device has shown comprehensive capabilities to address this need in children, particularly a device that can provide continuous measurements and data monitoring, characterize the spastic resistance, and accommodate growth as needed. The soft-­‐robotic glove, REHAB Glove, developed in this project will fill an important gap to improve independence and to reduce burden of care. The capabilities of this glove will not only address the therapy need of CP children but will also act as an important tool for data gathering for the development of dosage based therapy regimes for better outcomes. The proposed research will also serve as a training ground for medical and engineering students to become competent researchers as they will have the opportunity to join the project team for internships, mentorships, job shadowing, enrichment programs or summer academy.

Current hand rehabilitation devices, based on end-­‐effector and hard exoskeleton structures, are complex, have limited degrees of freedom, and are mostly applicable to only four fingers of the hand. All of these factors limit their capacity to support complex hand rehabilitation. Furthermore, the widespread usage of these systems in home environments is hindered by their mechanical complexity, cost, and potential safety concerns. Recent advances in soft robotics using flexible structures and actuators are being explored to reduce the complexity of these devices and improve human-­‐robotic interaction. In this work, a sensorized soft robotic glove will be developed using novel soft-­‐and-­‐rigid hybrid actuators alongside an advanced control unit with closed-­‐loop control. The PIs postulate that using a sensorized therapeutic glove capable of monitoring and assisting patient hand motion will enable children with CP to complete repetitive motions, and that children and parents can accept the robotic glove as a tool to optimize their rehabilitation. This device will help reduce the complexity, size, and cost associated with current state-­of-­the-­art care as well as enable the development of dosage based therapy studies. The soft robotic glove is made of compliant elastomeric material, which provides a safe user-­device interaction and allows customized fitting onto hands with different conditions and sizes. Sensor integration will provide the capability to monitor and record hand motion and thus evaluate the rehabilitation progress and facilitate clinical research of the hand. With an associated control unit, the device can be portable and used at home or in the hospital. This project leverages a unique collaboration that brings cutting-­edge engineering, therapy, and clinical knowledge to the development of an efficacious assistive technology that can be used to facilitate recovery of hand function. The goals of this project will be accomplished by executing the following aims: 1) Develop a soft robotic glove for children with integrated sensors that measure finger trajectory and force; 2) Develop a control algorithm to assist hand motion in different operation modes; 3) Test and validate the system's ability to measure finger motion parameters; 4) Obtain feedback from children, parents, rehabilitation physicians and therapists regarding the ease of use of the REHAB Glove, and their desire to use the tool in their daily rehab practice and exercise.

Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
2016-09-01
Budget End
2019-08-31
Support Year
Fiscal Year
2016
Total Cost
$315,993
Indirect Cost
Name
University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth
Department
Type
DUNS #
City
Fort Worth
State
TX
Country
United States
Zip Code
76107