Hybrid Rigid-Soft Hand Exoskeleton to Assist Functional Dexterity
Rose, Chad G.; O'Malley, Marcia K.
A hybrid hand exoskeleton, leveraging rigid and soft elements, has been designed to serve as an assistive device to return the ability to perform activities of daily living (ADL) and improve quality of life for a broad population with hand impairment. This glove-like exoskeleton, the SeptaPose Assistive and Rehabilitative (SPAR) Glove, is underactuated, enabling seven hand poses which support most ADLs. The device resides on the spectrum between traditional rigid devices and the latest soft robotic designs. It includes novel ergonomic elements for power transmission and additional features to enable self-donning and doffing. Embedded sensors enable pose estimation and intent detection for intuitive control of the glove. In this paper, we summarize the overall design of the glove, and present details of the novel rigid palm bar and hyperextension prevention elements. We characterize the grasp force and range of motion (ROM) of the glove, and present initial feedback from an end user. The SPAR Glove meets or exceeds the functional requirements of ADLs for both ROM and grasp force. Additionally, the glove exceeds the grasp force capabilities of comparable devices, while simultaneously offering the highest number of poses. In addition to its role as an assistive device, the SPAR Glove exoskeleton has the potential to provide “hands-in” rehabilitation, centered on performing functional tasks. In the near term, the glove is a highly capable prototype for exploring hybrid assistive device design, intent detection, and user interface research.