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Spring 2016
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Inquiry Magazine Archive

  • Spring 2016

    Spring 2016: Premium Blend

    Found in everything from space shuttles to dental fillings, composite materials have thoroughly infiltrated modern society. But their potential is still greatly untapped, offering researchers ample opportunity for discovery.

  • Fall 2015

    Fall 2015: Collision Course

    Within the particle showers created at the Large Hadron Collider, answers to some of the universe’s mysteries are waiting.

  • Spring 2015

    Spring 2015: Almost Human

    Model systems like pigeons can help illuminate our own evolutionary and genomic history.

  • Fall 2014

    Fall 2014: Small Wonder

    UT Arlington's tiny windmills are bringing renewable energy to a whole new scale.

  • Winter 2014

    Winter 2014: Overdue for an Overhaul

    The stability of our highways, pipelines, and even manholes is reaching a breaking point.

  • 2012

    2012: Mystery solved?

    Scientists believe they have discovered a subatomic particle that is crucial to understanding the universe.

  • 2011

    2011: Boosting brain power

    UT Arlington researchers unlock clues to the human body’s most mysterious and complex organ.

  • 2010

    2010: Powered by genetics

    UT Arlington researchers probe the hidden world of microbes in search of renewable energy sources.

  • 2009

    2009: Winning the battle against pain

    Wounded soldiers are benefiting from Robert Gatchel’s program that combines physical rehabilitation with treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder.

  • 2009

    2007: Sensing a solution

    Tiny sensors implanted in the body show promise in combating acid reflux disease, pain and other health problems.

  • 2006

    2006:Semiconductors: The next generation

    Nanotechnology researchers pursue hybrid silicon chips with life-saving potential.

  • 2005

    2005: Imaging is everything

    Biomedical engineers combat diseases with procedures that are painless to patients.

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A Helping Hand

New robotic glove transforming hand rehabilitation for stroke victims 

Robotic glove

New soft robotic glove offers a better therapy option for regaining mobility

Roughly 800,000 people in the United States suffer strokes each year, with nearly two-thirds experiencing impaired hand function as a result. For these patients, rehabilitation primarily centers on regaining mobility, but the loss of motion often remains a critical issue. Thankfully, a new, innovative piece of technology hopes to change that.

Research scientists at the UTA Research Institute (UTARI) have designed a soft robotic glove that can open and close a patient's hand, bringing recovery through a motion-therapy device that is less heavy, less expensive, and more compliant than current technologies.

Most commercial rehabilitation tools are based on hard (conventional) robotics, which often incorporate rigid exoskeleton structures and can be clunky, complicated, and costly. Soft robotic technology, on the other hand, employs pneumatically actuated structures that are relatively inexpensive and safer for the end-user.

Thanks to its novel soft actuator design, UTARI's glove offers a lightweight structure, individual control of joints, easy fabrication, and a flexible nature.

"Part of the focus in this development is to create a portable and independent system capable of applying and monitoring therapy without the constant supervision of a therapist," explains Muthu Wijesundara, project leader and UTARI principal research scientist. "The independence of the device is key."

His team—which includes University of North Texas Health Science Center (UNTHSC) researchers Rita Patterson, Nicoleta Bugnariu, and Timothy Niacaris—was awarded a grant through the Texas Medical Research Collaborative to bring their glove prototype into a clinical setting. The development will take place at UTARI, with UNTHSC clinical collaborators conducting safety and usability evaluations of the device.

Dr. Bugnariu notes that using the glove in the early stages of rehabilitation could prove especially beneficial: "If motion-therapy devices can be used to apply hand-opening and -closing motions starting early in the rehabilitation process, it would immensely aid the standard care of stroke patients and improve their long-term functional abilities and quality of life."

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