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ETH professor Roger Gassert has developed a robotic exoskeleton that allows stroke patients  to perform daily activities by supporting motor and somatosensory functions.

His vision is that “instead of performing exercises in an abstract situation at the clinic, patients will be able to integrate them into their daily life at home, supported by a robot.”

To reduce the weight of the exoskeleton, motors are placed on the patient’s back and  force is transmitted using a bicycle brake cable. ApplySci hopes that the size and weight of the motor can be reduced, allowing it to be integrated into the exoskeleton in its next phase.

Robotic hand exoskeleton for stroke patients

ETH professor Roger Gassert has developed a robotic exoskeleton that allows stroke patients  to perform daily activities by supporting motor and somatosensory functions.

His vision is that “instead of performing exercises in an abstract situation at the clinic, patients will be able to integrate them into their daily life at home, supported by a robot.”

To reduce the weight of the exoskeleton, motors are placed on the patient’s back and  force is transmitted using a bicycle brake cable. ApplySci hopes that the size and weight of the motor can be reduced, allowing it to be integrated into the exoskeleton in its next phase.

Mind-controlled robot helps move paralysed hand

Roger Gassert, Professor of Rehabilitation Engineering at ETH Zurich, has developed a number of robotic devices that train hand functions and sees this as a good way to support patient therapy.

“My vision is that instead of performing exercises in an abstract situation at the clinic, patients will be able to integrate them into their daily life at home, supported –

“That’s why we wanted to develop a model that leaves the palm of the hand more or less free, allowing patients to perform daily activities that support not only motor functions but somatosensory functions as well,”

However, the integrated motors brought the weight of the exoskeleton to 250 grams, which in clinical tests proved too heavy for patients.

The hand module now weighs slightly less than 120 grams and is strong enough to lift a litre bottle of mineral water.

hand exoskeleton with motors that can be fixed to the patient’s back: A bicycle brake cable transmits enough force to lift a litre bottle of mineral water.

(Image: Stefan Schneller) Gassert is currently driven by the question of what happens in the brain and how commands pass from the brain to reach the extremities after a stroke.

For their research, the scientists can draw on a number of imaging techniques, such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), which allows them to map the activities of the whole brain.

“Here, robotics is making a valuable contribution to basic research because it is ideally suited for capturing a movement, perturbing it and measuring the reaction,”

For example, the robotics experts have developed an exoskeleton that makes it possible to block the knee for 200 milliseconds while walking and extend it by 5 degrees.

Brain to robot: "move, please"

Gassert is currently driven by the question of what happens in the brain and how commands pass from the brain to reach the extremities after a stroke.

“Especially with seriously affected patients, the connection between the brain and the hand is often severely or completely disrupted,” Gassert explains, “so we are looking for a solution that will help patients pass on commands to the robotic device intuitively.” The idea is to detect in the brain a patient’s intention to move his or her hand and directly pass this information on to the exoskeleton.

For their research, the scientists can draw on a number of imaging techniques, such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), which allows them to map the activities of the whole brain.

“Here, robotics is making a valuable contribution to basic research because it is ideally suited for capturing a movement, perturbing it and measuring the reaction,” Gassert explains.

For example, the robotics experts have developed an exoskeleton that makes it possible to block the knee for 200 milliseconds while walking and extend it by 5 degrees.

Using Brain Power To Move Paralyzed Hands

Profesor Roger Gassert from ETH Zurich’s Rehabilitation Engineering department has developed a variety of robotic devices that can help train hands.

“My vision is that instead of performing exercises in an abstract situation at the clinic, patients will be able to integrate them into their daily life at home, supported – depending on the severity of their impairments – by a robot,” said Gassert.

“That’s why we wanted to develop a model that leaves the palm of the hand more or less free, allowing patients to perform daily activities that support not only motor functions but somatosensory functions as well,” he said.

“Here, robotics is making a valuable contribution to basic research because it is ideally suited for capturing a movement, perturbing it and measuring the reaction,” said Gassert.

For example, the robotics experts have developed an exoskeleton that makes it possible to block the knee for 200 milliseconds while walking and extend it by 5 degrees.