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University students dream of curing hand paralysis with exoskeleton

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Two students at a university in Germany have the ambitious goal of curing hand paralysis with their new exoskeleton technology.

Jacobs University student Zain A. Samdani developed the idea at age 16 when he met a distant uncle who was partially paralysed after a stroke and could barely hold a spoon with his hand.

Samdani said:

“I thought it was unfair that he didn’t get the treatment he deserved.

“Many people are affected by paralysis. While there are technically advanced treatments, they are far too expensive for most.”

Samdani, who grew up in Hyderabad, India, and has been involved with robotics since childhood, began researching.

The fledgling roboticist spoke with neurologists, as well as other experts and started the “ExoHeal” initiative.

Initial tests with the support structure soon proved to be successful.

The robotic glove mirrors the movements of the healthy hand, and each individual finger can be trained with the technology.

In the first trials, the recovery process accelerated considerably for around a third of the users.

Robotics and Intelligent Systems student Zain met Ramin Udash at the university.

The 19-year-old from Nepal is studying Computer Science and reinforces the “V-Bionic” start-up founded by Zain, where he focuses onapp development.

The app can monitor the training schedule for the hand determined by the doctor, suggests exercises based on the user’s routines and serves as a means of communication between doctor and patient.

Earlier this year, the team was awarded $100,000 for winning the Microsoft Cup.

Udash said:

“Winning wasn’t our motivation.

“With ExoHeal, we want to create something that makes a difference, that benefits many. The competition was just an opportunity to help us do that.”

V-Bionic now has $100,000 USD in its bank account, a $50,000 USD credit for using Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform, and an appointment with influential mentor, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella.

The start-up now wants to develop the prototype to production readiness and optimise the app.

The company is investing in machine learning and artificial intelligence techniques to improve therapeutic options.

They also want to expand their international team of six members and are looking for partners from the fields of robotics, graphics and machine learning.

Image: V-Bionic/Jacobs University

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