Soft robotics for healthcare
Soft robots have continuously deformable structures with muscle-like actuation that emulate biological systems and have a relatively large number of degrees of freedom. The moduli of soft robotic materials is more comparable with natural tissues and so medical devices or orthoses are potentially less damaging, more comfortable, replicate better the continuum motion and dexterity of natural joints, and single designs could potentially fit a wide range of people. These advantages are inspiring considerable interest in moving from conventional rigid actuators towards softer materials that are more compliant with patient contact. Several pilot studies have demonstrated the efficacy of exoskeleton soft robotics in orthotic motion assistance and rehabilitation – two healthcare sectors where demand is increasing.
We have the multidisciplinary expertise and infrastructure necessary for identifying healthcare needs, designing and producing soft robotic devices, and testing and evaluating their use in real life. Recently we applied rapid prototyping methods to produce elastomeric pneumatic actuators suited for hand rehabilitation. Next, using evidence based-care we aim to identify the needs of spinal cord injury and multiple sclerosis clients that could benefit from soft robotics in their lifetime care. Together we can engage in a well-informed cycle of device development with feedback from real clients in their own and controlled environments.
Financing: Fonden för Teknisk Undervisning och Forskning
Project manager: Stewart Makkonen-Craig
- Mirja Andersson
- Annikki Arola
- Ira Jeglinsky-Kankainen