Integration of a Passive Exoskeleton and a Robotic Supernumerary Finger for Grasping Compensation in Chronic Stroke Patients: The SoftPro Wearable System

Front Robot AI. 2021 Jun 10;8:661354. doi: 10.3389/frobt.2021.661354. eCollection 2021.


Upper-limb impairments are all-pervasive in Activities of Daily Living (ADLs). As a consequence, people affected by a loss of arm function must endure severe limitations. To compensate for the lack of a functional arm and hand, we developed a wearable system that combines different assistive technologies including sensing, haptics, orthotics and robotics. The result is a device that helps lifting the forearm by means of a passive exoskeleton and improves the grasping ability of the impaired hand by employing a wearable robotic supernumerary finger. A pilot study involving 3 patients, which was conducted to test the capability of the device to assist in performing ADLs, confirmed its usefulness and serves as a first step in the investigation of novel paradigms for robotic assistance.

Keywords: assistive robotics; exoskeletons; human-robot interfaces; upper-limb impairments; wearable robotics.