Content » Vol 52, Issue 3

Original report

Factors affecting the usability of an assistive soft robotic glove after stroke or multiple sclerosis

Susanne Palmcrantz, Jeanette Plantin, Jörgen Borg
Karolinska Institutet, Department of Clinical Sciences, Danderyd Hospital, Division of Rehabilitation Medicine, Stockholm, Sweden. E-mail: susanne.palmcrantz@ki.se
DOI: 10.2340/16501977-2650

Abstract

Objective: To explore the usability and effects of an assistive soft robotic glove in the home setting after stroke or multiple sclerosis.
Design: A mixed methods design.
Methods: Participants with stroke (n  =  10) or multiple sclerosis (n  =  10) were clinically assessed, and instructed to use the glove in activities of daily living for 6 weeks. They reported their experience of using the glove via weekly telephone interviews and one semi-structured interview.
Results: The soft robotic glove was used by participants in a wide variety of activities of daily living. Perceived beneficial effects while using the glove were a sustained and a strong grip. Disadvantages of using the glove were a lack of assistance in hand opening function and the glove not being usable for fine hand use. The glove was found to be useful by two-thirds of participants who completed the study, mainly by participants with moderate limitations in hand activity and an overall level of functioning that allowed participation in everyday life activities.
Conclusion: This study identified a subgroup of participants, who found the glove useful in activities requiring a strong and prolonged grip but not fine hand use, and highlights aspects for consideration in the further development of soft hand robotics for sustained use in a larger population living with a central nervous system lesion.

Lay Abstract

To explore factors impacting on the usability of an assistive soft robotic glove in the home setting after stroke or multiple sclerosis. Twenty participants living with the effects of stroke or multiple sclerosis used the assistive glove in the home for 6 weeks. Perceived usability was reported in weekly telephone interviews and one semi-structured interview. Functioning was clinically assessed. Perceived beneficial effects were a sustained and strong grip. Reported disadvantages were a lack of assistance in opening the hand, lack of wrist support, and the glove not being usable for fine hand use. The glove was found to be useful mainly by participants with moderate limitations in hand activity and an overall level of functioning that allowed participation in everyday life activities. This study identified a subgroup of participants, who found the glove useful in activities requiring a strong and prolonged grip but not for fine hand use, and highlights aspects for consideration in the further development of soft hand robotics for sustained use in a larger population living with a central nervous system lesion.

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