SBIR Phase I: Wearable Grippers for Hemiplegic Patients

Period of Performance: 01/01/2016 - 06/30/2016

$150K

Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Boston Incubation Center LLC
147 Old County Road
Lincoln, MA 01773
Firm POC, Principal Investigator

Abstract

The broader impact/commercial potential of this project will be significant. Stroke is one of the leading causes of long-term severe disability. In US alone almost 800,000 people suffer from stroke each year, with 55% to 75% surviving stroke patients have chronic limb impairment that hinders quality of life with significant disability. This wearable gripper will enable these patents to perform basic daily tasks such as holding a walker stably for functional mobility, opening the cap of a jar, putting on clothes, or pouring water into a glass. By regaining control of basic daily activities, not only the quality of life can improve, but the sense of independence can also help rebuild patients? confidence. In certain cases, this could even accelerate functional recovery. The wearable gripper will be designed with look and feel of popular consumer electronics that can easily gain acceptance of patients that can benefit from it. Its price point will also be in the range comparable to consumer electronics. With innovative electromechanical design and intelligent algorithm, this wearable gripper can learn the wearer?s specific need, a truly adaptive helping hand. This Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I project is aimed to develop a compact robotic gripper that can be worn on a person?s arm to assist the wearer in performing daily routine chores. The first target user group of this wearable robotic gripper will be hemiplegic patients who lost control of half side of the body. This lightweight robotic gripper can be worn on the affected arm of a hemiplegic patient and work with the functional arm in a coordinated manner to perform a variety of daily chores. An instrumented wristband with haptic feedback can be worn on the functional arm that senses movement of the arm as well as muscle tension; sensor signals are transmitted to the robotic gripper that can interpret wristband signals and maneuver accordingly. The haptic feedback in the wristband allows the wearer to sense gripper movement and make adjustment if needed. This product must be lightweight and easy to wear with minimal discomfort. Compact sensors, actuators and soft plastics commonly used in wearable consumer devices will be explored. A prototype will be built and preliminary test data will be analyzed to identify key design requirements and engineering specifications for this groundbreaking product.