A Novel Soft Robotic Supernumerary Hand for Severely Affected Stroke Patients

Andrea S. Ciullo*, Janne M. Veerbeek, Eveline Temperli, Andreas R. Luft, Frederik J. Tonis, Claudia J.W. Haarman, Arash Ajoudani, Manuel G. Catalano, Jeremia P.O. Held, Antonio Bicchi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
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Upper limb functions are severely affected in 23% of the chronic stroke patients, compromising their life quality. To re-enable hand use, providing a degree of functionality and motivating against learned non-use, we propose a robotic supernumerary limb, the SoftHand X (SHX), consisting of a robotic hand, a gravity support system, and different sensors to detect the patient's intent for controlling the robotic hand. In this paper, this novel compensational approach is introduced and experimentally evaluated in stroke patients, assessing its efficacy, usability and safety. Ten patients were asked to perform tasks of a modified Action Research Arm Test with the SHX, by using three input methods. The mARAT scores rated the potentiality of the system. Usability was evaluated with the System Usability Scale, while spasticity before and after use was measured by the modified Ashworth Scale (mAS). Nine patients, not able to perform any tasks without external support, completed the whole experimental procedure using the proposed system with a median score greater than 12/30. Among the three input methods tested, the usability of one was rated as 'good' while the other two were rated as 'ok'. Seven patients exhibited a reduction of the mAS. All nine patients stated that they would use the system frequently. Results obtained suggest that the SHX has the potential to partially compensate severely impaired hand function in stroke patients.

Original languageEnglish
Article number9051797
Pages (from-to)1168-1177
Number of pages10
JournalIEEE transactions on neural systems and rehabilitation engineering
Issue number5
Early online date31 Mar 2020
Publication statusPublished - May 2020


  • extra-thesis
  • soft robotic
  • stroke
  • Supernumerary limbs
  • upper limb


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