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National Winner

Handy

Handy is a soft robotic device helping stroke patients rehabilitate hands’ muscle and nervous systems, with closed-loop interactions based on regular motion simulations and movement assistant.

  • Handy - The Hand Rehabilitation Device

  • The video shows the developing and testing process of Handy.

    The video shows the developing and testing process of Handy.

  • How the device helps the recovery process and form a closed-loop rehabilitation experience.

  • The Soft Robotic System: Explained!

  • Model scan exposure and typical using scenario.

  • Research, modeling, and testing process.

What it does

Every year, more than 16 million people suffer from stroking, 80% of which lose hand functionalities. Handy uses electromyography to simulate regular hand motions to help patients with the recovery process.


Your inspiration

We researched and analyzed current methods of hand functionality rehabilitation, a process involving a great amount of repeated practices remodeling and improving damaged nerves. Those methods, widely used in hospitals nowadays, are inefficient and unable to feedback valuable data, while cannot be operated without extremely expensive and sophisticated equipment. Cooperating with doctors and hospitals, we designed this soft robot help rehabilitate both muscle and nerves efficiently and effectively.


How it works

This is a closed-loop muscle-nerve recovery system. The rehabilitation is a very sophisticated process involving both the restore of nerves and the recovery of muscles. A single procedure consists of the simulation of regular hand motion trends and assistance of corresponding motions. First, patients will be notified to move by visual signals from a computer or iPad. Then, the brain will produce a signal commanding hands to move. The hands, however, are unable to correspond and finish the requested movements. Simultaneously, myoelectric sensors placed upon hand and arm muscle groups will capture the trend. A short moment after that, the system will drive the soft device to bend via the air pump drives holding patients fingers. And the whole procedure’s accomplished. When patients repeatedly go through this process, the system will learn and help them customize the rehabilitation procedures, to further increase efficiency and effectiveness.


Design process

Our design focuses on soft robotic drives and myoelectric sensors. The soft robotic drives are more affordable and comfortable for patients to use when compared to traditional mechanical drives. Our research lays in the flawless constancy of its output force. To do so, we use cell topology structures designed with a team of 5 biologists and doctors from the local hospital. When inflated, the structure will bend while forming a hollow honeycomb area. The special structure ensures the intended bending and elongation angles, thus the targeted output forces. On the other hand, multiple myoelectric sensors are placed on various muscle groups inside patients arms and hands, judging corresponding movements based on received electromyography signals. We kept testing on patients in cooperating hospitals and made several iterations to minimize the error in the data collecting and analyzing processes. Currently, the system’s signal mean square error was tested to be 0.00956, which is basically in line with our expectations.


How it is different

1. The soft robotic structures: We overcame the problem of constantly output forces from the assistant structure while making the whole device comfortable to use and efficient during the whole rehabilitation process. 2. Simultaneously restore muscles and nerves: Innovative methods of simulations of hand movement signals and corresponding assistants can help patients recover both muscle and nerve systems within a single rehabilitation procedure. 3. Affordable and portable: The production cost of one soft robotics drive is just around 20 euro, while those of mechanical structures are more than thousands. The specially designed and tested structure is much more durable with a longer lifespan and light to move around just on patients’ hands.


Future plans

We’re currently working on the second version model, estimating mass production costs and further simplifying inflation structures to make it even more portable and lighter. We’re also working closely with several local hospitals to keep testing the current models and collecting data for later usages and product developments. Several major medical equipment manufacturers have already reached out to us for possible cooperations and further development, and we are open to all kinds of collaboration for the perfection and improvement of this product.


Awards

We have polished our works in two journals and it’s featured by multiple national news outlets. We also have 3 utility patents supporting our future development.


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