Cerebral palsy patients currently face a significant treatment gap, which in part has to do with the high cost of traditional treatment methods. Research has shown that cerebral palsy affects 1 in 323 children in the United States (CDC, 2018), 42% of which aren’t receiving the care that they need. The medical expenses needed for children with cerebral palsy are 16 times higher than other children, which could account for this high percentage. The summer research team aims to look into and develop low-cost technology alternatives that could supplement these children’s physical therapy from home. Building
upon existing work on controllable gloves with fabric actuators, my peer researchers and I looked into efficient design changes that accomplish our goal (Polygerinos, 2013).
Based on a review of research papers, existing strategies for glove position control (Yap, Kamaldin, Kim, Nasrallah, Goh, Yeow, 2015), were paired with sensors that could be integrated into a low-cost version. Two different sensor types were chosen to be evaluated for their feasibility for our project: a commercially available glove controller based on a conductive-ink bend sensor, and a novel
conductive textile. Analysis of the data demonstrated that the glove controller sensors worked well, better than the conductive textiles, as expected. The results indicate that the glove sensors worked best when bending them along a radius rather than at a joint since the signal is strongest when the sensors are bent consistently along the length rather than at a single point. Further research is needed to characterize the accuracy of the sensors, but they are ready to be integrated and tested with the other control aspects.