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HOWARD device helps stroke victims grasp again

Darren Murph

While we've got robotic assistants that give aid to our ankles, arms, upper bodies, muscles, and legs (just to name a few), researchers at the University of California, Irvine are offering up yet another solution to assist stroke victims regain functionality in their hands. Sure, the Cyberhand and modified P5 glove have already been down this road before, but UCI's Hand-Wrist Assisting Robotic Device (cleverly-dubbed HOWARD) is a purely medical device that was constructed to "help people regain strength and normal use of affected hands long after a stroke." Considering that the first three months after a stroke are when the most "spontaneous improvement" occurs, the device is set into a lineup of scheduled therapy sessions which help victims regain motion, feeling, and grasping abilities of their hands. Additionally, HOWARD requires patients to move at least one-tenth of an inch before the assisting kicks in, which purportedly helps them "remember the feeling" of making motions on their own. Currently, 13 participants have been through HOWARD therapy, and all of them saw 10 to 20-percent improvements in various grasping tests, and while we've no idea when these contraptions will sneak into hospital wards, the team is already hard at work developing a smaller sibling with a bit more software options than the existing rendition.

[Via Slashdot]

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