Behind the 3D printed gloves of IISc researchers for the rehabilitation of stroke patients

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IISc researchers – Abhijit Chandra Roy, DST-Inspire Faculty, and Aveek Bid, Associate Professor in the Department of Physics, have developed a flexible, wearable device that uses the fundamental properties of light to detect limb or limb movements. fingers of a patient. This innovation is an original idea of ​​Abhijit. Analytics India Magazine interacted with Prof. Aveek to learn more about the device, the technology behind it, and future plans with the product.

Image: IISc LinkedIn

GOAL: What was the motivation behind the creation of these 3D printed gloves?

With: The main motivation for the project came from the personal experience of one of the researchers. A member of the researcher’s family suffered from a stroke. The family experienced the scarcity of affordable rehabilitation aids and the unavailability of rehabilitation centers near the stroke patient’s home. Since more than 70% of people in India reside in rural areas, the situation experienced by the researcher’s family member is common for most stroke patients in India.

Stroke causes short- and long-term disabilities in patients around the world. The prolonged rehabilitation process involves regular visits to rehabilitation centers and the use of conventional stationary rehabilitation tools. This conventional type of rehabilitation process usually involves the high cost of care provided.

Personalized home rehabilitation is one of the most preferred options for many stroke patients, but it is also not free of challenges. The acquisition of personalized rehabilitation tools due to their exorbitant cost and the inaccessibility of personalized rehabilitation accessories are two of these problems. Conventional rehabilitation devices are rarely equipped with the digital capability for real-time data acquisition and sharing with an expert by electronic means.

The stroke patient’s recovery rate can be hampered by the lack of proper advice from expert medical professionals.

AIM: Can you explain how it works? What kind of technologies does this product use?

With: We have taken advantage of the fundamental property of light, such as total internal reflection and refraction of light and the elastic property of transparent silicon material, to fabricate such a device. We used a transparent, resilient material to transport light from one end to the other by a principle known as light wave guiding. We created various sensing nodes on the light-guided material, which gives superior sensing ability to the device, including touch, bending, and bending shape. We showed the technique of fabricating such devices on large surfaces using a custom-made 3D printing technology (high speed, ~30 ms per node). Our strategy produces a stable device (the device works perfectly after almost a year) using economical rubbery material, basic electronic components such as LED/diode, laser diode and light sensing components.

AIM: What were the challenges you encountered? How did you rectify them?

With: We have started working on ending the device from the first restriction due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It took nearly a year to understand and optimize the design and manufacturing process. As the idea was completely unique, characterizing the device was a challenge. We had no characterization tools in our laboratory. To meet the challenge, we had two options in our hands, either we sourced characterization tools from the supplier or we made one in our laboratory. We chose the latter to build one from scratch. Although we chose the latter option, we had to do a lot of tinkering and brainstorming to optimally design and manufacture such a characterization tool with the lowest possible expense.

Finally, we purchased a 3D printer to print the characterization tool parts and other components in the lab, such as stepper motors, drivers, linear stages, etc. Another hurdle we faced was aligning the light sources and the photodetector to fabricate the device. We fixed this issue by monolithically attaching the light source and photodetector to the device so that relative movement between the light source and detector is limited.

AIM: When do you plan to release it and in what price range will you offer it?

With: Our idea is to develop the product at lightning speed, and we are on the right track. However, more funding is an immediate need, and we have applied for funding from the Department of Science and Technology (DST) of India. However, we are open to receiving funding from private organizations as well as other government agencies to expedite work with more qualified researchers and engineers.

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