Restoration of Hand Function in Stroke or Spinal Cord Injury

  • Derek G. Kamper


Neurological injury, such as that resulting from stroke or spinal cord injury, often leads to impairment of the hand. Due to the importance of the hand in so many activities of our lives, diminished motor control can adversely affect quality of life, sometimes substantially. In the past 20 years especially, robotic and mechatronic technology has been developed to alleviate some of the functional losses resulting from neurological injury. The devices generally fall into one of two categories based on intended use: assistive technology, programmed to perform specific tasks for the user, and therapeutic technology, designed to facilitate therapeutic practice. Assistive devices are intended for chronic use when neurological recovery has reached a plateau, while the goal of therapeutic devices is to enhance recovery to the point where the devices are no longer needed. In the past, assistive robots have largely been developed to serve the needs of individuals with spinal cord injury, while therapeutic devices have targeted stroke survivors. As technology continues to evolve, however, it may be appropriate to consider greater application of assistive devices for stroke survivors, especially those with severe, chronic hand impairment. Conversely, as the population with incomplete tetraplegia grows, development of therapeutic devices for retraining hand movement in these individuals may become more feasible.


Hand function Stroke Spinal cord injury Assistive technology Therapeutic technology 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London Limited 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biomedical EngineeringIllinois Institute of TechnologyChicagoUSA

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