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An Automated Game-Based Variable-Stiffness Exoskeleton for Hand Rehabilitation

Wasiq Ahmed, Hiba Tariq, Nida Rashid, Noor Fikree, Shakti Singh, and Dongming Gan
Khalifa University of Science and Technology, Abu Dhabi, UAE

Abstract— In this paper, we propose and demonstrate the functionality of a novel exoskeleton which provides variable resistance training for human hands. It is intended for people who suffer from diminished hand strength and low dexterity due to non-severe forms of neuropathy or other ailments. A new variable-stiffness mechanism is designed based on the concept of aligning three different sized springs to produce four different levels of stiffness, for variable kinesthetic feedback during an exercise. Moreover, the design incorporates an interactive computer game and a flexible sensor-based glove that motivates the patients to use the exoskeleton. The patients can exercise their hands by playing the game and see their progress recorded from the glove for further motivation. Thus the rehabilitation training will be consistent and the patients will re-learn proper hand function through neuroplasticity. The developed exoskeleton is intrinsically safe when compared with active exoskeleton systems since the applied compliance provides only passive resistance. The design is also comparatively lighter than literature designs and commercial platforms. 

Index Terms—automatic variable stiffness, hand rehabilitation, virtual reality, tele-rehabilitation

Cite: Wasiq Ahmed, Hiba Tariq, Nida Rashid, Noor Fikree, Shakti Singh, and Dongming Gan, "An Automated Game-Based Variable-Stiffness Exoskeleton for Hand Rehabilitation" International Journal of Mechanical Engineering and Robotics Research, Vol. 9, No. 4, pp. 603-611, April 2020. DOI: 10.18178/ijmerr.9.4.603-611

Copyright © 2020 by the authors. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0), which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided that the article is properly cited, the use is non-commercial and no modifications or adaptations are made.