Date of Award

Spring 5-2020

Level of Access

Open-Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Mechanical Engineering

Advisor

Babak Hejrati

Second Committee Member

Mohsen Shahinpoor

Third Committee Member

Andrew Goupee

Abstract

Over three million people in the U.S. suffer from forearm and hand disabilities. This can result from aging, neurological disorders (e.g., stroke), chronic disease (e.g., arthritis), and injuries. Injuries to hands comprise one-third of all work-related injuries worldwide. This can lead to difficulties with activities of daily living (ADL), where one needs to grasp, lift, and release objects in the household. There is a rise in demand for assistive orthoses and gloves that can allow many people to regain their grasping/releasing ability and, thereby, their independence. The main contribution of this thesis is developing an assistive glove with the actuating mechanism comprised of linear actuators and strips of spring steel to enable bidirectional motion of users' fingers during ADL. The target group of people to use this proposed actuation system was chosen to those who had only diminished hand grasping capabilities. There are already many different gloves in the market. Each one uses different methods of actuation and force transmission, as well as different control methods. These gloves were analyzed by looking at their actuation mechanisms, control systems, and the benefits and downfalls of each one.

Vigorous testing was conducted to choose the most effective components for the actuating mechanism. Then, an assistive glove was fabricated which included a control system box that could be easily worn on the forearm of the user. Tests were conducted on the glove to test its effectiveness when the user’s hand was completely passive using four to six participants. Motion capture, force, and electromyography (EMG) data were collected and from those, range of finger motion, maximum grasping capabilities, maximum force generation, and muscle activity were analyzed. The glove was shown to actuate the fingers enough to grasp objects with different sizes ranging in diameter from 40mm to 80mm, with maximum possible weight able to be picked up being around 1000g for the larger sizes. The glove could generate 4N-5N to the index and middle fingers and 10N to the thumb. EMG analysis showed that using the glove to pick up heavy objects caused a decrease in muscle activity of up to 80%. From this analysis, it was shown that the glove has potential to assist with ADL and would provide greater independence for those with diminished hand grasping abilities.

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