EXOFLEX Hand Therapy and Assessment Device
- BES Rehab Ltd
- Design & Industry
The Exoflex™ is a portable device worn on the hand that works to bring movement to paralysed and recovering hands. This device can manipulate and mobilize hand joints in a controlled and safe manner for exercise, rehabilitation and eventually function. Exoflex™ can also be used for assessment of hand health.
Restoring hand function can return independence to individuals with disability. Our aim was to develop simple-to-use, non-invasive human machine interfaces that return lost function as well as assist with rehabilitation, recovery and assessment. Many breakthroughs were necessary including a novel force sensor and a hybrid force and position control system.
The Exoflex is uniquely portable and worn over the arm and fingers.
The usage model of the device is modular so only fingers requiring therapy are allocated Exoflex Drive Units. However, even with the full hand loaded, the unit is light enough on the hand to allow patients to walk around unhindered for up to two hours of therapeutic activity.
One Exoflex’s key breakthroughs is its ability to passively move each joint of each finger and thumb independently – the device is effectively acting as 14 individual modules prescribing movement to joints requiring therapy.
This is an important improvement over other hand therapy tools that move the whole hand where any finger joints with significant stiffness end up carrying the load for the other joints. In the Exoflex, a stiff hand joint is moved only until the prescribed force limit on it is reached. These movements are all synchronized and coordinated to ensure fingers are not mobilized out of turn.
The Exoflex aims to use outcome-based intervention for therapy. The first time the unit is used on a new patient, a database entry is created for the client on the device itself.
Once registered, in follow-up usage the device remembers the patient and records important measurements related to their fingers and their usage patterns. The patient compliance and usage data is graphed together with the range of movement of each finger tracked. Crucially, the therapist can use this information to link the activity types and amount of usage to the recovery of the hand in an objective manner.
Exoflex allows passive and active movement of the hand as well as dynamic splinting.
Given the architecture of the Exoflex technology, therapy routines can be custom made for each patient depending on their needs. This may include passive movement (device moves fingers) or active movement (patient moves fingers and device resists or assists). In addition, individual joints in the hand can be dynamically locked and immobilized (splinted) while other joints are allowed to move.
This is a unique and revolutionary feature in the Exoflex that has not been available in any portable device in prior art.
The Exoflex Control Unit (ECU) is a WiFi enabled master controller with a touch screen. The ECU is worn on the arm allowing the user to initiate and stop therapy and access their settings.
Through WiFi, the ECU hosts a web service that can connect to a smart device allowing it to receive software updates as well as presenting Telemedicine opportunities.
Using this innovative architecture, the device presents an additional screen remotely to connected smart devices. Therapists use this to access a sophisticated user interface featuring patient database, customized therapy builder and assessment records including trend data and graphs.