The study of human hand morphology reveals that developing an artificial hand with the capabilities of human hand is an extremely challenging task. This paper presents the development of a robotic prosthetic hand focusing on the improvement of a tendon driven mechanism towards a biomimetic prosthetic hand. The design of this prosthesis hand is geared towards achieving high level of dexterity and anthropomorphism by means of a new hybrid mechanism that integrates a miniature motor driven actuation mechanism, a Shape Memory Alloy actuated mechanism and a passive mechanical linkage. The synergy of these actuators enables the flexion-extension movement at each of the finger joints within a limited size, shape and weight constraints. Tactile sensors are integrated on the finger tips and the finger phalanges area. This prosthesis hand is developed with an exact size ratio that mimics a biological hand. Its behavior resembles the human counterpart in terms of working envelope, speed and torque, and thus resembles both the key physical features and the grasping functionality of an adult hand.
Previous studies have shown that there are arguments regarding the reliability and validity of the Ashworth and Modified Ashworth Scale towards evaluating patients diagnosed with upper limb disorders. These evaluations depended on the raters’ experiences. This initiated us to develop an upper limb disorder part-task trainer that is able to simulate consistent upper limb disorders, such as spasticity and rigidity signs, based on the Modified Ashworth Scale to improve the variability occurring between raters and intra-raters themselves. By providing consistent signs, novice therapists would be able to increase training frequency and exposure towards various levels of signs. A total of 22 physiotherapists and occupational therapists participated in the study. The majority of the therapists agreed that with current therapy education, they still face problems with inter-raters and intra-raters variability (strongly agree 54%; n = 12/22, agree 27%; n = 6/22) in evaluating patients’ conditions. The therapists strongly agreed (72%; n = 16/22) that therapy trainees needed to increase their frequency of training; therefore believe that our initiative to develop an upper limb disorder training tool will help in improving the clinical education field (strongly agree and agree 63%; n = 14/22).