Exoskeleton glove developed at Virginia Tech could diagnose cerebral palsy in children

Published: Jun. 17, 2016 at 5:53 PM EDT
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Every wire, cord, and mouse click, and successful movement of a device in a lab in the basement of Randolph Hall at Virginia Tech means something revolutionary in the medical field.

"I am very excited about this and my students are very excited about this," Pinhas Ben-Tzvi said, he's an associate professor at Virginia Tech.

Despite its looks, the exoskeleton glove is changing how doctors diagnose children who show signs of cerebral palsy.

The team in the Robotics and Mechatronics Lab at Virginia Tech designed it.

It was originally developed to give researchers a closer connection to robots.

Then the glove was redeveloped as a type of physical therapy to help stroke victims.

But it was modified when a medical doctor from a children's hospital in Ohio emailed to ask if it could be used for diagnostic purposes.

"There are sensors here, this one also has a vibration sensor so that it generates vibrations to the tip of the finger to see what is the brain's response to vibrations," Ben-Tzvi said pointing to tiny metal senors in the glove.

The device now provides feedback while measuring a child's pincer grasp and records brain wave patterns to detect developmental abnormalities in the brain.

"Based on how they do that type of grasp indicates apparently their neurological development and if there is any impairment," Ben Tzvi said.

His team is preparing a trip to Ohio to test the glove. It's now in the research and development phase. The next step is making the glove small enough to fit on a child's hand.