The potential broader impact of the Partnerships for Innovation-Technology Translation (PFI-TT) project is to improve the quality of life of more than five million stroke patients who may benefit from the proposed innovation, a robotic system for delivering hand physical therapy. If successful the technology will address one of the most critical and challenging problems in stroke rehabilitation, which is the hand rehabilitation. It is expected that this robotic hand physical therapy system may result in higher functional and motor skills outcomes and shorter lengths of hospital stays. The major outcomes of this work hold potential to improve the rehabilitation outcomes of not only stroke patients but also those with upper extremity neurological and musculoskeletal impairments. Indirectly, the proposed innovation is expected to improve vocational skills and prevent the consequential injuries after a stroke. With mentoring from personnel with business and commercialization experience and the focus on developing a commercialization plan, this project creates a unique opportunity for educating the team in the process of translating basic research into deployed technology. Successful completion of this project will train the next generation of innovators and business leaders. Execution of activities toward broadening participation and outreach contributes to national impact.

This project tackles a critical shortcoming of the current treatment options, which is failure to cause meaningful recovery for stroke patients resulting in severe disabilities, especially in hand movement. While robotics is a promising technology for delivering effective therapies, currently there is no robotic system that can sufficiently recover a patient?s full hand movement. This PFI team will prototype and translate a novel robotic system with a unique ability to provide precise assistance to invoke recovery of hand function. The exoskeleton will also collect high-resolution motion and effort data during therapy to provide online and summary feedback to the patients and the therapists. The project will advance the existing ?lab prototype? to a ?field prototype? that will translate into clinical testing using a control architecture: physical attachment to the subject and a graphical user interface. Successful completion of these activities may lead to implementation of therapeutic protocols that restore movement capabilities after stroke. Importantly, the project will also elucidate appropriate metrics, value proposition, and regulatory/commercialization paths to accelerate translation of the hand therapy robotic system to the end user.

This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Industrial Innovation and Partnerships (IIP)
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Jesus Soriano Molla
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University of Texas Austin
United States
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