A Hybrid Rehabilitation Sleeve improves upper-limb functioning of Stroke patients

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Rehabilitation Sleeve is equipped with modular apparels and a bracing system.
Rehabilitation Sleeve is equipped with modular apparels and a bracing system.

Over the years, the advancement of technology has helped restore limb functionality. Robotics has played a major role in helping a person overcome his disability. With more and more technological advances and research ideas coming along, disability can more or less be overcome. The most recent technological advancement involves the development of a rehabilitative sleeve that can be worn in hospitals or at home to help a paralysed person overcome his upper limb dysfunctionality.

 Use of the rehabilitation sleeve: (a) as a whole (b) as an elbow module (c) as a wrist module
Use of the rehabilitation sleeve: (a) as a whole (b) as an elbow module (c) as a wrist module

Researchers at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University have developed a rehabilitation sleeve which works as a combination of robotics and a Functional Electric Stimulation (FES) system. Moreover, clinical trials have proved that this combination is much more effective than the use of the technologies individually.

This brilliantly designed sleeve gives the user the freedom to wear the sleeve as a whole or in parts; in other words it can be worn as a wrist/hand module, an elbow module or as a complete sleeve involving all the modules together. In order to improve the comfort levels for the user to wear the device for a longer period of time, a brace involving a moisture and a pressure management system of the skin has been incorporated.

Interaction of the sleeve with the computer has been made possible by translating the user’s motion into mouse inputs. Moreover to yield better results the mouse inputs are correlated with a number of computer applications which enhances the interest of the patient.   This hybrid system involving Functional Electric Stimulation and Robotics has been designed efficiently for multi-joint upper limb rehabilitation and the effectiveness of this technology has been proven using clinical trials.

The FES – Robotic hybrid system moves using electric motors and this allows in assisting the joints of the upper limb. It also makes use of electrical stimulation which induces muscular movements at the joints by causing a change in synaptic behaviour, environment and neural processes, and this ensures a faster recovery of the paralysed upper limb.   To make things more interesting, this sleeve can also be used for various Interactive computer applications and games.

This hybrid technology can be used by people whose upper limb have been paralysed at various degrees. It can be used as a whole or in parts, bringing about a whole new sphere of ideas and technological advancements for the differently-abled group.

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