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In IEEE transactions on biomedical circuits and systems

Soft hand exoskeletons offer a lightweight, low-profile alternative to rigid rehabilitative robotic systems, enabling their use to restore activities of daily living (ADL) in those with hand paresis due to stroke or other conditions. The hand exoskeleton with embedded synergies (HEXOES) is a soft cable-driven hand exoskeleton capable of independently actuating and sensing 10 degrees of freedom (DoF) of the hand. Control of the 10 DoF exoskeleton is dimensionally reduced using three manually defined synergies in software corresponding to thumb, index, and 3-finger flexion and extension. In this paper, five healthy subjects control HEXOES using a neural network which decodes synergy weights from contralateral electromyography (EMG) activity. The three synergies are manipulated in real time to grasp and lift 15 ADL objects of various sizes and weights. The neural network's training and validation mean squared error, object grasp time, and grasp success rate were measured for five healthy subjects. The final training error of the neural network was 4.8±1.8% averaged across subjects and tasks, with 8.3±3.4% validation error. The time to reach, grasp, and lift an object was 11.15 ± 4.35s on average, with an average success rate of 66.7% across all objects. The complete system demonstrates real time use of biosignals and machine learning to allow subjects to operate kinematic synergies to grasp objects using a wearable hand exoskeleton. Future work and applications were discussed, including possible design improvements.

Burns Martin, Pei Dingyi, Vinjamuri Ramana