ATLAS bimanual-rehabilitation glove (via Northeastern University)
Having a stroke is no joke and it affects about 700,000 people per year in the United States alone. Out of those who have had a stroke 85% of them require special care and rehabilitation to get their fine motor skills back which can be very costly (estimated at $28 billion US annually). To help people recover the motor skills in their hands, a team of researchers from Northeastern University have designed a pair of specialized gloves that allows the wearer to regain motor control from the comfort of home. The team designed the gloves, called the ‘Angle Tracking and Location at Home System (ATLAS) bimanual rehabilitation glove’, using a series of internal and bend measurement sensors that are sewn into each finger (except the pinky) of the gold Lycra gloves to measure movement.
These sensors are connected to an IMU (Inertial Measurement Unit) on the back of the glove that houses a 3-axis gyroscope, 3-axis magnetometer and a 3-axis accelerometer that are connected to an Arduino microcontroller which collects all the data such as hand position/orientation, finger movement and muscle strength. The information is then sent, via USB, over to a box that houses an Arduino Mega microcontroller which connects to a laptop that translates the user’s movements in a virtual environment.
The team, led by doctoral student Mark Sivak, recently demonstrated the gloves potential using a program developed from the Unity game engine where the users arm movements were monitored in real-time. The ATLAS system is intended to help stroke victims regain fine motor-control in their hands and arms by interacting in a virtual game type environment which would make rehab both fun and effective. The system can also be monitored online from rehabilitation specialists that can track the progress of the user and recommend different programs or games as the rehab evolves over time. So far the ATLAS system is still in its development stage, but it does look to be an easy cost effective (costing around $500 US) way for stroke victims to get their mobility back.