Research Prosthesis2012

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An Underactuated Prosthetic Hand Based on Postural Synergies

December 2011 to present

Note bulb.png This work was supported by the Chinese National Program on Key Basic Research Projects (the 973 Program) #2011CB013300.

Manipulation of two rehabilitation training balls on the palm: (a) a pose of the dummy hand and (b) a pose of the prosthetic hand

It is a particularly challenging task to build and attach an anthropomorphic prosthetic hand that can replicate delicate motions of the biological original. In order to achieve this goal, the prosthetic hand shall be versatile enough for various daily tasks and controllable through a bio-signal interface, such as EMG (electro-myography) or EEG (electro-encephalography). However limited bandwidth of these interfaces used to prevent fully actuated robotic hands from being applied as prostheses if each DoF (Degree of Freedom) requires individual control to perform dexterous grasping tasks, even though many designs were absolutely the state-of-the-art.

Recent advances in neurology showed that CNS (Central Nervous System) controls hand muscles in a coordinated manner. This coordination is referred as to a postural synergy. Each postural synergy corresponds to flexion/extension actuation statuses of several involved muscles. CNS combines postural synergies, adjusting each synergy’s weight (coefficient), to realize various hand motions. Combination of two primary postural synergies accounts for more than 80% of the variance of dozens of different grasping postures.

This project proposes a complete process of designing underactuated prosthetic hands to realize intended continuous hand motions. The specific paradigm is to rotate two rehabilitation training balls on palm using coordinated finger motions as shown in the figure. This exercise helps the elderly or patients after mild stroke to maintain or recover their hand motor function. Although this motion sequence might not seem practically meaningful for amputees, the motivation here is to demonstrate the capability and effectiveness of this proposed design process.

A dummy hand

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