People recovering from a stroke or spinal cord injury must often relearn how to perform many of the activities of daily living (ADLs). Some of those activities require assistance, either from caregivers or assistance technology. Grasping can often be beyond the physical and neurological capabilities of stroke victims. From holding and using a key, opening a door, cooking, and getting dressed, the ability to grasp enables many of our everyday activities.
Researchers at the Seoul National University BioRobotics Lab have developed a two-part soft wearable to assist people with grasping. The Exo-Glove Poly is a soft, wearable robot that fits over the thumb and first two fingers. Palm movement can also be actuated. The wearable “glove” unit, made of a soft polymer, is attached to an actuation unit. The polymer glove construction enables easier cleaning and provides user comfort. Multiple adjustable straps in the glove accommodate different hand sizes and shapes.
Kyu-Jin Cho, from the SNU BioRobotics Lab, presented a paper about the Exo-Glove Poly in which he said, “By restoring the hand function with this assistive technology, we hope that more people with disability will be able to live a better independent life.” Ongoing research includes developing two-handed motions such as holding a bottle with one hand, twisting off a cap with the other hand, and then using two hands to simultaneously hold a cup in one and pour from the bottom with the other.