Skip to main content
• Social Media: Connect with UsAccessibility  |  About  |  Contact  |  Privacy  |  Terms

Robotic Glove Helps Restore Hand Movement

  • Published: 2016-01-11 : National University of Singapore (nus.edu.sg).
  • Synopsis: EsoGlove, a robotic glove, helps patients restore hand movements by detecting muscle signals and guiding the hand to perform rehabilitation exercises.

Main Document

Quote: "EsoGlove is designed to enable patients to carry out rehabilitation exercises in various settings - in the hospital wards, rehabilitation centers and even at home..."

Patients who have lost their hand functions due to injuries or nerve-related conditions, such as stroke and muscular dystrophy, now have a chance of restoring their hand movements by using a new lightweight and smart rehabilitation device called EsoGlove developed by a research team from the National University of Singapore (NUS).

Made of soft materials, this novel device is an improvement from conventional robotic hand rehabilitation devices as it has sensors to detect muscle signals and conforms to the natural movements of the human hand, reducing discomfort and risk of injury. This robotic glove is also compact and portable, so patients who are recovering at home or are bedridden could carry out rehabilitation exercises with greater ease and comfort.

Assistant Professor Raye Yeow from the NUS Department of Biomedical Engineering, who specializes in soft wearable robotics and is a key member of the research team, explained, "For patients to restore their hand functions, they need to go through rehabilitation programs that involve repetitive tasks such as gripping and releasing objects. These exercises are often labor intensive and are confined to clinical settings. EsoGlove is designed to enable patients to carry out rehabilitation exercises in various settings - in the hospital wards, rehabilitation centers and even at home. Equipped with technology that can detect and interpret muscle signals, EsoGlove can also assist patients in daily activities, for instance by guiding the fingers to perform tasks such as holding a cup."

The NUS team comprises Asst Prof Yeow, his clinical collaborator Dr Lim Jeong Hoon from the NUS Department of Medicine, as well as PhD candidate Mr Yap Hong Kai and undergraduate student Mr Benjamin Ang Wee Keong, who are both from the NUS Department of Biomedical Engineering.

Greater comfort and convenience

A research team from the National University of Singapore has developed a new lightweight and smart rehabilitation device called EsoGlove to help patients who have lost their hand functions due to injuries or nerve-related conditions to restore their hand movements. Photo Credit: National University of Singapore
About This Image: A research team from the National University of Singapore has developed a new lightweight and smart rehabilitation device called EsoGlove to help patients who have lost their hand functions due to injuries or nerve-related conditions to restore their hand movements. Photo Credit: National University of Singapore
Conventional robotic devices for hand rehabilitation consist of rigid electromechanical components, which are heavy and uncomfortable for patients.

"EsoGlove is unique as it is made entirely of soft components and does not require complicated mechanical setups. The main body of the glove is made of fabric, with soft actuators embedded. It also has adjustable Velcro straps to cater to different hand sizes," Asst Prof Yeow said.

EsoGlove is connected to a pump-valve control system that modulates the air pressure which directs the soft actuators. When the actuators are pressurized by air, they apply distributed forces along the length of the finger to promote finger movements, such as bending, extending and twisting, to support different hand motions. This novel method does not constrain the finger's natural movements, unlike conventional devices that make use of rigid links and joints. Each actuator also functions independently, providing assistance to each finger separately.

The robotic glove can be applied in a table-top version for bedridden patients, as well as a waist-belt version for patients who are mobile and recovering at home.

Smart control and assistance

EsoGlove uses an intuitive control mechanism that involves the coupling of electromyography and radio-frequency identification technologies. With this feature, the robotic glove can detect a patient's intent to perform a hand action on a particular object, such as picking up a pen or holding a mug. By interpreting the muscle signals of the wearer, the robotic glove can help the patient move the fingers to accomplish the specific tasks, involving objects of various shapes and sizes, in an intuitive manner.

Said Dr Lim, who is also a Senior Consultant at the National University Hospital's Division of Neurology, "With this unique approach, we can develop therapeutic tools using safe and wearable robotic technology. Patients can take the initiative in their own rehabilitative process, rather than being passive recipients of therapists' intervention."

"As the soft actuators in the EsoGlove are made from non-ferromagnetic materials, they are suitable for use in functional magnetic resonance imaging studies. We hope that the robotic glove can contribute towards investigating the brain's activity in relation to motor performance during hand rehabilitation, and unravel the functional effects of soft rehabilitation robotics on brain stimulation," added Mr Yap, who is also from the NUS Graduate School for Integrative Sciences and Engineering.

Clinical studies and commercialization

Asst Prof Yeow and his team plan to start pilot clinical studies at the National University Hospital in February 2016 to validate the device's performance, as well as to obtain patient and clinical feedback so as to further refine the design of the device. The studies will take about six months, involving 30 patients.

The team has also filed a patent for EsoGlove, and will start a spin-off company to commercialize the device.

Similar Topics

1 - Robotic Device Improves Balance and Gait in Parkinson's Disease Patients - Columbia University School of Engineering and Applied Science.
2 - Disabled Americans in Big Cities Find Many Mobility Challenges - 1800Wheelchair.com.
3 - WHILL WeDrive - Free Online Community for Mobility Device Users - WHILL.
4 - Man with Quadriplegia Uses Brain Interface Technology to Move Again - Case Western Reserve University.
5 - New Affordable Wheelchair Tennis Chair - Tennis Foundation.
From our Mobility Aids and Devices section - Full List (32 Items)

Submit disability news, coming events, as well as assistive technology product news and reviews.


Loan Information for low income singles, families, seniors and disabled. Includes home, vehicle and personal loans.


Famous People with Disabilities - Well known people with disabilities and conditions who contributed to society.


List of awareness ribbon colors and their meaning. Also see our calendar of awareness dates.


Blood Pressure Chart - What should your blood pressure be, and information on blood group types/compatibility.



1 - Genes That Repair the Spinal Cord in Fish Are Also Present in Humans
2 - Slight Fluctuations in Movement Correspond to Autism Diagnoses
3 - wheelAIR Innovative New Cooling Wheelchair Backrest Wins Support on Dragons Den
4 - DIVAS Rule the Runway at The Woodlands
5 - Ultra-thin Optical Fibers Provide Way to Print 3D Microstructures



Citation


Disclaimer: This site does not employ and is not overseen by medical professionals. Content on Disabled World is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of a physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. See our Terms of Service for more information.

Reporting Errors: Disabled World is an independent website, your assistance in reporting outdated or inaccurate information is appreciated. If you find an error please let us know.