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Smarp-id is an adaptive hand splint used in the treatment of upper limb spasticity. It offers more comfort to the patient and more control for therapists over the spastic limb during therapy.

  • A render of the Smarp-id splint on a 3D scanned spastic hand.

  • The video shows the Smarp-id splint (prototype) being placed on a patient and being adjusted.

    The video shows the Smarp-id splint (prototype) being placed on a patient and being adjusted.

  • A photo of the final working prototype with the corresponding control components.

  • Starting with the very first prototype on the left side of the picture to the final on the right

  • I compared prototype 1 and 2 with each other using heat camera images.

  • A render of the Smarp-id control components that will provide the splint with the desired power.

What it does

Smarp-id measures the muscle activity in the joints. These data help to make predictions of where spasticity will occur and what actions to take with the splint. The splint can be made plastic deformable in specific joint zones with a push of a button.

Your inspiration

In 2015 my grandmother was admitted to the hospital with a stroke. This caused her to suffer from spasticity which caused her joints to be painful and her muscles difficult to move. She also got uncontrolled painful muscle contractions. She had to go through a long process of rehabilitation. But due to the spasticity, this was very difficult and hard. The tiring rehabilitation reduced her immunity and later she was diagnosed with cancer, from which she eventually died. It was noteworthy that there was no proper treatment for the spasticity. This because there’s no way to detect spasticity and there is no control over the spastic limb.

How it works

The new splint works based on a new thermoplastic technology. When electric current is placed on the rigid thermoplastic, it becomes plastically deformable after 30 seconds. The great advantage of this technology is that the current can be controlled so that it runs through specific zones in the thermoplastics. This means that several plastic deformable zones can be created, which can be controlled separately at the push of a button. The whole process of heating and cooling can be applied over and over again without the thermoplastics breaking down. For measuring the spasticity activity in the muscles, smart textiles are used. I’ve been able to design a new type of pressure sensitive textile that is able to display this muscle activity. The way these textiles work is, when spasticity occurs the joint will want to hinge, which causes a momentary force that can be translated as a compression force on the splint.

Design process

I started with the problem of spasticity therapy. Analyzing and summarising these insights for specifications. I came in contact with the start-up LOMA innovation, that the new thermoplastics technology had recently invented. I was allowed to use their technology for further R&D so we both could benefit. The main difficulty was to develop the thermoplastic shape. Starting with cardboard mockup models and finally coming to a first prototype in the material. During the first prototypes, there were still problems with the current control through the material. I used heat cameras to compare theory and practice. I made prototype after prototype to perfect them until I came to a final prototype where the plastic shape was perfectly functioning and was surrounded by the right materials for the patient to protect and provide comfort. Another important design driver is the measuring of the muscle activity for targeted therapy. I looked at smart textiles and quickly came to the conclusion that there was no existing solution, so I developed my own pressure sensitive textile sensor based on different textile layers with different conductive properties. I programmed these with arduino and tested and calibrated them extensively. I made a lot of prototypes until I received the desired qualities

How it is different

Today, splints for spasticity are made by using the IMF method. This method involves making a thermoplastic, plastically deformable with a hot water bath and applying it entirety to the patient. During this process several therapists are used to control the spastic limb and to modulate the splint at the same time. Adjustments to the splint are limited and are carried out with a hot air blower. Therefore, it cannot be adapted directly to the patient. That’s why the current process is very intensive with the necessary infrastructure and takes a lot of time. So it’s almost impossible to respond quickly during therapy. With the new Smarp-id splint, which uses thermoplastic technology, it’s now possible to adjust the splint within 5 minutes during therapy. All you need is a power outlet and a push of a button. The current splints do not contain any intelligence, which means that they cannot display the muscle activity of occurring spasticity.

Future plans

Today I have a fully finished and working prototype of the Smarp-id splint. This splint has been tested and has received a very positive response from the work field. In a next step, the production of the product must be worked out so it is ready to use. This will require collaboration with software and electronics engineers to fine-tune the PCB’s and the Network/Application connections. Ethical tests must also be requested for approval. During my research I came to the conclusion that, based on the same technology, even more products can be made. That's why I made the design future proof with low investment costs.


This year I completed my thesis on Smarp-id at the University of Antwerp. I had the highest score for all the master thesis requirements so I was selected for the award "best of product development". This award will be announced on September 13th. The university strongly advised me to participate for the James Dyson Award.

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