People can lose strength in their upper extremities for many reasons, including stroke, myopathies, and even healthy aging. We’ve written about several exoskeletal technologies developed for upper extremity support and assistance. Otherlab’s Roam, a soft upper extremity exoskeleton, cuts both the weight and cost of conventional robotic devices. Talem Technologies developed a passive, spring-loaded, zero-gravity upper-extremity support device with software that can be used to assist with daily living skills by patients with Duchenne muscular dystrophy.
Sensory Motor Systems Lab, part of the Institute of Robotics and Intelligent Systems at ETH Zurich, recently adapted technology used in its Myosuit wearable lower body support to create the Myoshirt, a garment-like, lightweight, soft wearable robot. The Myoshirt assists upper extremity movement with minimal interference with the user’s natural movements, according to SMS Lab. Forces generated in a motor unit located in the back are transferred to joints via cables, with just one motor per limb. The shirt also helps stabilize the shoulder while sensors detect user intentions.
The Myoshirt is still a work in progress. The goal is to continue to refine software control to so users can easily adjust the support and forces in the shirt for comfort and for specific tasks as they arise throughout the day.