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James Connolly, Joan Condell, Kevin Curran, Philip Gardiner, Brendan O’Flynn, Javier T Sanchez, and Philip Angrove (2013)

Data glove design improvements for finger joint Range of Motion measurement

In: Design4Health conference.

Data gloves are capable of measuring finger joint kinematics and can provide objective Range of Motion (ROM) information useful for clinical hand assessment and rehabilitation. Our work focuses on an intelligent system to analyse ambulatory movement of patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) and particularly focuses on the measurement of joint stiffness. The Disease Activity Score (DAS) measures RA disease activity, but it quantifies pain rather than measuring stiffness (Van der Heijde et al. 1993). Goniometric measurement quantifies static ROM, but it is laborious to perform. This system has been developed using 5DT (Fifth Dimension Technologies 2004) and X-IST (Inition 2013) standard off-the-shelf virtual reality gloves. Both gloves are designed to fit specific hand sizes. However human hands are not identical, resulting in the need for calibration of the gloves for each user. Patients with RA can also have limited ROM. This affects the glove calibration process and angular accuracy. Development of a new bespoke glove containing multiple accelerometers, bend sensors and force sensors eliminates the need for calibration and offers accessibility to users with limited ROM. This glove has been designed using flexible PCB technology. Implementation of a meander-type PCB design between each finger joint greatly increases overall PCB flexibility.