Date of Award

Spring 2007

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Biomedical Engineering - (M.S.)

Department

Biomedical Engineering

First Advisor

Lisa K. Simone

Second Advisor

Richard A. Foulds

Third Advisor

Andrew Ulrich Meyer

Fourth Advisor

Bruno A. Mantilla

Abstract

The aftermath of a stroke leaves people with side effects such as speech and hearing problems, and loss of sensation in one side of their body. Sensory feedback in the hand is used to assess if the individual is using appropriate grip force to hold and use objects; lack of sensory feedback can lead to dropped or damaged objects, and possible hand injury. Existing force biofeedback devices are overly complex and difficult to use in the home. The goal of this project is to provide increased environmental awareness of hand grip force for individuals with reduced hand sensation. Although hand functionality is complex; a lightweight, low profile glove was created that measures a selected set of finger joint angles and force on finger tips. An algorithm was developed that combines this information to determine the current posture of the hand, and also provides the appropriate vibrotactile feedback to another location on the body that might allow individuals to recover some sense of touch. The method was between 96% and 100% successful in providing the appropriate vibrotactile feedback for normal and large grip forces. Predicting when objects were grasped too loosely was a greater challenge; leading to a separate study showing that appropriate grip force is related to object diameter. This project has identified a unique configuration of sensors and a initial algorithm that can be used improve sensory feedback for rehabilitation to help individuals recover some hand functionality.

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