The Myoshirt - Daily life assistance for the upper limb

Impairments of the upper limb are caused by various acquired or congenital disorders, but also common ageing. These impairments can limit upper limb function, such that activities of daily living become challenging and quality of life suffers. The Myoshirt – a modular soft wearable robot – assists the upper limb in daily life. To this end, the two modules of the Myoshirt, a scapula orthosis and a garment-like exosuit, support shoulder stability and shoulder mobility during activities of daily living.

Enlarged view: The Myoshirt (rear view) is a lightweight soft wearable robot that assists upper extremity movements. It is an intuitive tool for people with muscular weakness.
The Myoshirt is a modular soft wearable robot that supports shoulder stability by means of a scapula orthosis and shoulder mobility by means of a garment-like exosuit.

 

Cooking, cleaning and other activities of daily living require various movements of the arms. When arm function is limited, these activities become challenging and quality of life is compromised. The underlying impairments can be caused by various disorders. These disorders include genetic diseases such as muscular dystrophies, traumatic incidents such as strokes or nerve palsies, but also common ageing.

In the recent past, the emerging technology of textile-based assistive devices has been successfully applied to assist human walking, for example in the form of the Myosuit. Textile-based assistive devices have many advantages: They are lightweight and can be combined with normal clothing. If powered actuation is required, the bulk weight can be mounted energy-efficiently close to the body’s core. And using advanced control strategies, they can assist the wearer intuitively, acting like an external layer of muscles.

In this research project, we aim to create tools that effectively assist the upper limb in daily life. We therefore developed the Myoshirt, a modular garment-like wearable robot that assists shoulder stability and shoulder mobility.

To assist shoulder stability, we designed and built a textile-based scapula orthosis. The orthosis applies a force on the scapula to prevent scapular winging. Scapular winging is a dislocation of the scapula during arm elevation, caused by a weakness of the muscles in the upper back. Using the scapula orthosis, range of motion, movement effort and control of the upper limb can be improved.

To assist shoulder mobility, we designed and built a textile-based wearable robot that supports the upper limb against gravity. With only one motor per arm, the Myoshirt can support multiarticular movements such as reaching. Forces are generated in a motor unit and transferred to the shoulder via tendons, inducing assistive torques that support shoulder elevation and external rotation. Using motion and force sensors, the user’s movements are detected and followed without any additional user inputs. This makes the Myoshirt an intuitive tool that actively supports people with upper limb impairments during activities of daily living.

Enlarged view: Myoshirt – Wearable Assistance
The Myoshirt mobility module supports the shoulder against gravity. It follows the user’s movements smoothly during activities of daily living.

Funding

Swiss National Science Foundation through the National Center of Competence in Robotics

external pageNCCR Robotics

Publications

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