Master Project

Design improvements of a minimally supervised portable hand trainer

Frequent and high-intensity training, especially in the first six months, is crucial to improve upper-limb capacity of people after stroke. This leads to better performance in activities of daily living and thus, a higher quality of life. Robot-assisted therapy can help to deliver high-intensity training. However, often the time and effort required for therapists and patients to set up the robotic device is high, leading to frustration and abandonment. Additionally, state-of-the-art robotic devices tend to be bulky, expensive and highly complex machines, making minimally supervised use in a home environment challenging.

In previous works at our lab, a lightweight, cheap and easy-to-use hand trainer for minimally supervised use was developed [1], which can be seen in Figure 1. Following, the usability of the device and the feasibility of unsupervised training with the hand trainer were evaluated in a usability study with therapists and healthy participants. Here, flaws in the design, instructions and graphical user interface were identified and additional feedback for improvements gathered.

In this thesis project, the improvements based on the analysis of the usability study will be implemented using Human-Centered Design methodology involving stakeholders: Users, medical professionals and technical experts from TU Delft, Erasmus MC and Rijndam Revalidatie. Finally, the results will be evaluated in a follow-up usability study with the stakeholders.



Figure 1: Hand trainer for for minimally supervised use. The device can be used to train finger flexion/extension and wrist pronosupination.

Aims of the project

  • Literature research: Review of Human-Centered Design use in Rehabilitation Robotics, minimally supervised training and upper-limb stroke rehabilitation.

  • Design improvements: Improve the hand trainer design based on the learnings of the previous study, using the Human-Centered Design methodology.

  • Study design: Design of the usability study protocol, including research question, hypothesis, outcome measures and procedure.

  • Testing: A usability study with users, healthcare professionals and technical experts is conducted.

  • Scientific report: The methods and results of the study findings will be protocolled in a scientific report

Interested in the Project? Contact: Alexandre Ratschat