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The human hand comprises complex sensorimotor functions that can be impaired by neurological diseases and traumatic injuries. Effective rehabilitation can bring the impaired hand back to a functional state because of the plasticity of the central nervous system to relearn and remodel the lost synapses in the brain. Current rehabilitation therapies focus on strengthening motor skills, such as grasping, employ multiple objects of varying stiffness so that affected persons can experience a wide range of strength training.
This work focuses on the design, development and evaluation of a soft-inflatable exosuit for knee rehabilitation. Soft-inflatable actuators made of heat-sealable thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) materials are fabricated in beam-like structures of I cross-section and mechanically characterized for their torque performance in knee-extension assistance. The soft-inflatable actuators are integrated into a light-weight, low-cost and bodyconforming interface to assist the quadricep muscle groups during walking.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) affects roughly 3%-6% of the working population ages 18-64. This affliction is caused by applying stress on the median nerve that is routed through the carpal tunnel while it is at a positive or negative angle, greater than 15 degrees in either direction, to the human wrist. The median nerve can become inflamed and swollen due to pressure from the palmar carpal ligament causing numbness, stiffness and in some cases severe pain. Tasks like typing can become nearly impossible when the median nerve is inflamed.
This work presents a portable, soft robotic glove designed to augment hand rehabilitation and/or offer assistance to individuals with functional grasp pathologies. The robotic glove utilizes soft actuators consisting of molded elastomeric chambers with fiber reinforcements that induce specific bending, twisting and extending trajectories under fluid pressurization. These soft actuators were mechanically programmed to match and support the range of motion of individual fingers.
Closing small defects in the body typically requires stitching of tissues during surgery. Toward a minimally invasive approach, we engineered a balloon catheter with a reflective surface coating that could be used to adhere biodegradable patches to tissues. The device unfolds the patch and its adhesive, delivers ultraviolet (UV) light, and then applies pressure to stabilize the adhesive as the light cures the polymer.
Minimally invasive surgery (MIS) is a surgical technique that uses several small incisions—between 5mm and 15mm—rather than a single large incision to operate on tissues. While MIS provides a number of benefits over traditional open surgeries—including reduced pain and recovery times—significant time is spent mobilizing organs (removing the connective tissues that keep organs in place) and retracting them so that the organs of interest can be accessed during more complex procedures.
Cardiac arrhythmia is a serious heart condition with potentially fatal consequences, if untreated. A large number of people worldwide are affected by it. In the United States of America alone, the number of cardiac arrhythmia cases is estimated to around 1% of the overall population. The current treatment approach is to subject patients to a minimally invasive procedure, called cardiac ablation. During this procedure physicians with the visual aid of an x-ray fluoroscope insert catheters through small openings in the blood arteries of the patient.