Innovating and Enhancing Rehabilitation Functionality through Customized Refinement
Authors:Luis Orozco, Ethian Ting
Mentor:Samuel Landsberger, Professor of Kinesiology and Mechanical Engineering, California State University Los Angeles
Many people with disabilities rely on custom orthoses in their activities of daily living. Custom-fit orthoses for various sizes and specific disabilities usually sell at premium prices, and the maintenance thereafter incurs additional costs. The Hand Orthoses Project aims to improve the commercially manufactured device designs and functionalities by correcting flaws and reducing engineering expenses. The project began by identifying the sources of the malfunctioning. The first issue came from the improper geometric alignment of a four-bar linkage in the original design. The device’s tenodesis splint formation required something simpler: a one-bar linkage. This reduced complexity and probability for error while providing more stability. The second problem arose from electrical issues: the motherboard of the motor programs lacked protection and rusted easily due to moisture. Thirdly, the controller of the orthosis had a faulty antenna. The project fixed these issues by replacing the motherboard with an Arduino Uno microprocessor that utilized an H-bridge integrated circuit to run the motor systems. The controller was also replaced with a user-friendly Bluetooth system. The final problem was the overall weight of the orthoses. The project significantly removed most of the weight by replacing heavy 1.5-volt batteries with light, rechargeable, lithium-ion batteries, removing a huge burden on patients’ physical stamina. Many parts selected and installed to fix these four issues were lightweight and easily accessible at retail electronics stores. The innovations and enhancements resulted in the Hand Orthoses Project have effectively lowered the assistive devices’ costs and made them more reliable through engineering refinement. The project’s renovation processes and outcomes can be replicated in other custom-made as well as commercially manufactured orthotic devices for disabled persons with limited limb functionalities.