When someone is left paralyzed by a stroke or brain injury, much of their recovery involves physically guiding the affected limb through the lost movement so that their brain can learn it again. A new exoskeleton does just that for the arm and patients can use it in their own homes.

Known as Emovo Grasp, the device is manufactured by the Swiss startup Emovo Care, which in turn is affiliated with the EPFL research institute.

It includes two motor-driven cables, each wrapped in a separate sheath. They serve as artificial tendons that run along the back of the affected hand and connect to the index and middle fingers through silicone rings.

When the user wants to practice grasping an object, he presses a button on the manual remote control, activating the motor to push the cables forward. This causes the user’s fingers to close around the object. As the palm of their hand and the pads of their fingers remain unobstructed, they can feel the object, along with the amount of pressure they exert on it. This pressure can be modulated by the remote control.

After the person considers that he has grasped the object well, he stops the motorcycle, keeping the artificial tendons and fingers in place. They can then practice lifting the object and dropping it back. To release the object, they press a second button on the remote control to start the engine in reverse, so that the tendons gently pull their fingers back.

Because it is small and portable, Emovo Grasp can be taken home and used by patients between clinic visits.

Alain Herzog

Emovo Grasp is currently the subject of a clinical trial involving approximately 30 patients with brain injuries in France, Italy and Austria. One test participant has already reported that after seven years of complete immobility, he was able to move his index finger two millimeters just one day after using the device for the first time.

More clinical trials are now planned. We hope that Emovo Grasp will be available on the market sometime next year.

You can see it in use in the video below.

The exoskeletal device helps stroke victims regain arm function

Sources: EPFL, Emovo Care


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