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Design and Preliminary Performance Assessment of a Wearable Tremor Suppression Glove

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Approximately 25% of individuals living with parkinsonian tremor do not respond to traditional treatments. Thanks to the emergence of wearable biomedical technology, externally-worn devices, i.e., wearable tremor suppression devices (WTSD), have been developed as a potential alternative approach for managing tremor. Although these studies have shown a promising ability to reduce tremor in the upper limbs, tremor in the fingers has not been given as much attention as tremor in the elbow and the wrist. Therefore, the objective of this study is to design a wearable tremor suppression glove that can suppress tremor simultaneously, but independently, in multiple hand joints without restricting the user’s voluntary motion. To achieve this goal, a WTSD was designed for managing tremor in the index finger metacarpophalangeal (MCP) joint, thumb MCP joint, and the wrist. The prototype was tested and assessed on a participant living with parkinsonian tremor. The experimental evaluation showed an overall suppression of 73.1%, 80.7%, and 85.5% in resting tremor, 70.2%, 79.5%, and 81% in postural tremor, and 60.0%, 58.7%, and 65.0% in kinetic tremor in the index finger MCP joint, the thumb MCP joint, and the wrist, respectively.

The device enriches the field of upper-limb tremor management, as the first WTSD for multiple joints of the hand. The initial assessment of the WTSD for people living with Parkinson’s disease provides confirmation of the feasibility of the approach for managing hand tremor without medication or surgery. The next step will be a comprehensive evaluation on a broader population to fully validate the performance of the WTSD.

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