Now, researchers at Harvard’s Wyss Institute have developed and are clinically testing a soft robotic glove that helps to restore hand function.
The device was developed with constant feedback from potential users. Testing was performed not only to evaluate the glove’s mechanical capabilities, but also to study how it impacts potential patients’ social and psychological well being. Enhancing such factors can help to ensure that users continue using the rehab device for long periods of time, optimizing the benefits that are derived from it.
The researchers utilized tiny actuators, to minimize the size of the glove, and were able to distribute the forces over the glove’s fingers evenly so that it feels natural to the user. The glove itself is made of Kevlar and a silicone elastomer, making it both strong and flexible at the same time. The controller powering the glove is small enough to be attached to the user’s belt.