RBE PhD Thesis Defense - by Christopher Nycz

Friday, July 27, 2018
10:30 am to 11:30 am
Floor/Room #: 
RBE Conf Rm. #209

PhD Thesis Defense

Christopher Nycz

Derivation of Parameters for the Design of Portable Hand Orthoses
 to Assist Upper Motor Neuron Syndrome Impairments
and Demonstration of their Application

Wearable assistive robotics have the potential to address an unmet medical need in reducing disability related to chronic hand impairment due to neurological trauma or disease. Though many potential solutions have been explored, few patients have seen the intended benefits of such devices. In order to improve upon the design and function of powered hand orthoses, this thesis explores the measurement of parameters needed to accurately size critical electro-mechanical components. Following initial application experience with tendon-actuated soft robotic gloves and a collaborator's orthosis using novel flat-spring actuators, we identified two common assumptions regarding hand orthosis design. The first was reliance on incomplete studies of grasping forces during activities of daily living as a basis for design criteria, leading to poor optimization. The second was a neglect of increases in muscle tone following neurological trauma, rendering most devices non-applicable to a large subset of potential users. To address these gaps in knowledge, we measured joint torques during activities of daily living with able-bodied subjects using dexterity representative of orthosis-aided motion. Next, we measured assistive torques needed to extend the fingers of individuals with increased flexor tone following TBI. Finally, we applied this knowledge to design a cable actuated orthosis for assisting finger extension, providing a basis for future work focused on a currently under-represented subgroup of patients.

Friday, July 27, 2018
10:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.
85 Prescott St., RBE 209
Teresa Hemple