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The SmartHand transradial prosthesis

Author(s): Cipriani Christian | Controzzi Marco | Carrozza Maria Chiara

Journal: Journal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation (JNER)
ISSN 1743-0003

Volume: 8;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 29;
Date: 2011;
Original page

Abstract Background Prosthetic components and control interfaces for upper limb amputees have barely changed in the past 40 years. Many transradial prostheses have been developed in the past, nonetheless most of them would be inappropriate if/when a large bandwidth human-machine interface for control and perception would be available, due to either their limited (or inexistent) sensorization or limited dexterity. SmartHand tackles this issue as is meant to be clinically experimented in amputees employing different neuro-interfaces, in order to investigate their effectiveness. This paper presents the design and on bench evaluation of the SmartHand. Methods SmartHand design was bio-inspired in terms of its physical appearance, kinematics, sensorization, and its multilevel control system. Underactuated fingers and differential mechanisms were designed and exploited in order to fit all mechatronic components in the size and weight of a natural human hand. Its sensory system was designed with the aim of delivering significant afferent information to the user through adequate interfaces. Results SmartHand is a five fingered self-contained robotic hand, with 16 degrees of freedom, actuated by 4 motors. It integrates a bio-inspired sensory system composed of 40 proprioceptive and exteroceptive sensors and a customized embedded controller both employed for implementing automatic grasp control and for potentially delivering sensory feedback to the amputee. It is able to perform everyday grasps, count and independently point the index. The weight (530 g) and speed (closing time: 1.5 seconds) are comparable to actual commercial prostheses. It is able to lift a 10 kg suitcase; slippage tests showed that within particular friction and geometric conditions the hand is able to stably grasp up to 3.6 kg cylindrical objects. Conclusions Due to its unique embedded features and human-size, the SmartHand holds the promise to be experimentally fitted on transradial amputees and employed as a bi-directional instrument for investigating -during realistic experiments- different interfaces, control and feedback strategies in neuro-engineering studies.
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