Rehabilitation Robotic Exoskeleton Upgrade
Finger INdividuating Grasp Exercise Robot, or FINGER, is a novel robotic finger training device that assists participants in moving their index and middle fingers through naturalistic curling motions, typically while playing a musical computer game similar to Guitar Hero. The original FINGER was designed and built at U of I as part of a 5-year NIH funded collaboration with researchers at UC Irvine. This research used FINGER to test the hypothesis that proprioceptive integrity is a gateway for robotic assistance because it allows such assistance to stimulate a Hebbian-like learning mechanism. The project enjoyed significant success, and multiple version of the FINGER robot are still be used for rehabilitation research at UC Irvine and The Wadsworth Center in New York. Last fall, NIH approved a 5-year renewal of the grant (2R01HD062744-06) to continue the research with the additional hypotheses: improving proprioceptive capacity with targeted training will enhance the effectiveness of subsequent robotic finger training, and proprioceptive integrity modulates spontaneous self-training outside of formal training. As part of this continuing collaboration with researchers at UC Irvine, Dr. Wolbrecht and Dr. Perry will lead the design and development of FINGER 2.0, which will add a thumb module to the original FINGER device allowing for thumb and finger therapy and assessment.
Article by Dr. Eric Wolbrecht