Robotics for rehabilitation of hand movement in stroke survivors:
This article aims to give an overall review of research status in hand rehabilitation robotic technology, evaluating a number of devices. The main scope is to explore the current state of art to help and support designers and clinicians make better choices among varied devices and components. The review also focuses on both mechanical design, usability and training paradigms since these parts are interconnected for an effective hand recovery. In order to study the rehabilitation robotic technology status, the devices have been divided in two categories: end-effector robots and exoskeleton devices. The end-effector robots are more flexible than exoskeleton devices in fitting the different size of hands, reducing the setup time and increasing the usability for new patients. They suffer from the control of distal joints and haptic aspects of object manipulation. In this way, exoskeleton devices may represent a new opportunity. Nevertheless their design is complex and a deep investigation of hand biomechanics and physical human–robot interaction is required. The main hand exoskeletons have been developed in the last decade and the results are promising demonstrated by the growth of the commercialized devices. Finally, a discussion on the complexity to define which design is better and more effective than the other one is summarized for future investigations.