An Assistive Robotic Exoskeleton Glove Designed for Patients with Brachial Plexus Injuries


Exoskeleton gloves have proven to be invaluable in post-surgery therapy for patients with Brachial Plexus Injuries, countering hand muscle atrophy through controlled and assisted movements. While many rehab gloves target stroke recovery, they lack the desired Human-Machine Interface and struggle to find the right balance between performance and size.



Pinhas Ben-Tzvi and his team at Virginia Tech have designed a novel robotic exoskeleton glove that achieves mechanical balance between size, weight, and force output (described in the IEEE Transactions on Robotics article Design, Control, and Experimental Evaluation of a  Novel Robotic Glove System for Patients with Brachial Plexus Injuries). The exoskeleton glove also features a voice-based Human-Machine Interface with a bio-authentication feature specifically designed for patients with Brachial Plexus Injury (described in the Mechatronics article Personalized Voice-Activated Grasping System for a Robotic Exoskeleton Glove).

In addition to mechanical design and Human-Machine Interface, the members of the Robotics and Mechatronics Lab also proposed smart force control algorithms. For patients with weak hand muscles, a motion amplifying algorithm allows the device to reproduce natural movements in the hands of individuals with compromised gripping function. A combination of adaptive programming and feedback from sensors in the finger joints and on the fingertips allows the application of progressive assistance consistent with the needs of the person using this device (described in the IEEE Transactions on Human-Machine Systems article Grasp Prediction Toward Naturalistic Exoskeleton Glove Control). For patients with no control over their muscles, various autonomous force planning algorithms were developed (described in the upcoming article Vision-Based Human-Machine Interface for an Assistive Robotic Exoskeleton Glove).

The principals developed in this project can further be applied to other applications requiring similar functions, including medical training, tele-surgery, tele-navigation, manipulation of virtual objects in virtual reality (VR), and any type of movement assistance required for rehabilitation. 

Exoskeleton glove device prototype


 Clinical Experiments with Patients Who Suffer from Hand Disability

Patent Information:
For Information, Contact:
Rozzy Finn
Licensing Officer
Virginia Tech Intellectual Properties, Inc.
Pinhas Ben-Tzvi
Bijo Sebastian
Eric Refour