IEEE logoEMBS logoRAS logo
seattle banner

ICORR 2013 Workshop

Robot-Assisted Assessment and Therapy of Hand Function

Roger Gassert
Olivier Lambercy

Affiliation:      Rehabilitation Engineering Lab, ETH Zurich, Switzerland
Contact info:   LEO B9.1, Leonhardstrasse 27
                            8092 Zurich, Switzerland
                            Phone: +41 44 632 32 66
Statement of objectives
Interaction with the environment occurs mostly through the hands and fingers, involves dexterous and dynamic movements and relies strongly on sensory feedback. Any reduction of hand function through neurological injury such as stroke or spinal cord injury has devastating effects on the independence and social integration oftheaffected person. About two thirds of stroke survivors suffer from long-­‐term hand and finger impairment.
Restoration of hand function may be facilitated via robotics, although significant challenges remain. While there have been numerous developments and clinical studies with robot-­‐assisted gait and arm rehabilitation systems over the past two decades, few are those focusing on hand and finger function. This is likely due to the high complexity and relatively small size of the hand and fingers. Interaction with the hand requires devices with a large dynamic range of displayable impedance to provide therapy at all levels of impairment and train both motor and sensory components of movement. Furthermore, due to the slow recovery of hand function, portable and wearable solutions for assistance and therapy in the home environment must be explored.
This workshop therefore aims to:

  • Discuss the challenges for robot‐assisted rehabilitation of hand function,
    in the clinic and the home environment
  • Provide an overview of robotic solutions for assessment, therapy and
    long‐term assistance of hand and finger function
  • Explore novel avenues for promoting recovery
  • Bring together a group of specialists investigating the restoration of hand
    function following neurological injury
    List of speakers (each talk includes 5–10 min of discussion)





Introduction to the workshop and

Roger Gassert

ETH Zurich


Assessment and therapy of hand
function with end‐effector devices


ETH Zurich


Exoskeleton robotic hand system
for stroke rehabilitation

Raymond Tong

Hong Kong


SNU Exo‐Glove: an under‐actuated, cable‐driven wearable robotic hand

Kyujin Cho

Seoul National


Development of robotic
exoskeletons for hand rehabilitation

Patrick Aubin



Coffee break




Peter S. Lum, Elizabeth B. Brokaw, Sasha B. Godfrey: Comparison of robotic and passive devices for rehabilitation of hand function after stroke

Peter S. Lum

University of


Monitoring use of the hand at
home and re‐training finger control with music and robotics

Reinkensmeyer and Eric Wolbrecht

University of
California, Irvine University of Idaho


The brain in the loop – novel modes of therapy and assistance

James Sulzer and Roger Gassert

ETH Zurich


Discussion and concluding remarks




Intended audience

This workshop is intended for anyone interested in the engineering challenges related to the development and clinical evaluation of robotic systems to aid functional recovery of hand function following neurological injury and provide long-­‐term assistance. We will highlight recent advances and discuss future research avenues.


gassertRoger Gassert has been assistant professor of rehabilitation engineering at ETH Zurich since December 2008. He received the M.Sc. degree in microengineering and the Ph.D. degree in neuroscience robotics from the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), Switzerland in 2002 and 2006, respectively. During his Ph.D., partially carried out at the ATR Computational Neuroscience Laboratories in Kyoto, Japan, he developed an MRI-compatible robot technology that lead to the first haptic interfaces allowing safe and gentle interaction with human motion during functional MRI. These systems are now being used to investigate sensorimotor control and learning with partners in Japan, the UK and Switzerland. He subsequently participated in the development and evaluation of pioneering robotic rehabilitation systems to train hand function after stroke as postdoctoral fellow at Imperial College London and Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada, supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation. From December 2007 to November 2008 he headed the joint robotics lab between EPFL and the University of Tokyo at the Robotic Systems Lab at EPFL. His research interests are in physical human-robot interaction, rehabilitation and neuroscience robotics, assistive technology and the neural control of movement.

lambercyOlivier Lambercy received the M.Sc. degree in microengineering from the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL), Lausanne, Switzerland in 2005, and the Ph.D. degree in Mechanical Engineering from the National University of Singapore (NUS), Singapore in 2009. During his thesis, he participated to the development and clinical evaluation of pioneering robotic devices for the rehabilitation and assessment of hand function in stroke patients. Since 2009 he has been Research Associate at the Rehabilitation Engineering Lab at ETH Zurich, Switzerland. His principal research projects are on medical and rehabilitation robotics, motor control and human-machine interaction.

r. tongRaymond Kai-yu Tong received his PhD in Bioengineering from the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, UK in 1999. He joined the Hong Kong Polytechnic University in 1999, he is a Professor in the interdisciplinary Division of Biomedical Engineering and he is the research theme coordinator in Rehabilitation Engineering. He is also the Programme Leader in the BSc. in Biomedical Engineering. His research interests include rehabilitation robotics (e.g. Exoskeleton Rehabilitation Hand Robot, PolyJbot), Kinect-based stroke rehabilitation (e.g. KineLabs), functional electrical stimulation(FES) and stroke rat model. Research projects have been externally funded as Principal Investigator including 4 Innovation and Technology Funded projects and 8 external funded projects. His research has received Hong Kong Institute of Engineers innovation awards for young members in 2008, five grand/gold awards in international invention competitions/exhibitions(APICTA2012[Brunei], 2012[Geneva], 2010[Germany], 2007[Belgium],2004[China]) and Hong Kong Award for Industry(2003). Six patents have been filed in US and China, and technologies have been licensed to US and Hong Kong companies. He is also the Editor of two books “Biomechatronics in Medicine and Health Care” in 2011 and “Handbook of Medical Device Regulatory Affairs in Asia” in 2013.

k-j choKyu-Jin Cho (M'08) received B.S and M.S. degrees from Seoul National University, Seoul, Korea in 1998 and 2000, respectively, and a Ph.D. degree in mechanical engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2007. He was a post-doctoral fellow at Harvard Micro robotics Laboratory until 2008. At present, he is an associate professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and the director of Biorobotics Laboratory at Seoul National University. He spent a month as a visiting scholar in Biorobotics Institute, Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna, Pisa, Italy, in 2013. His research interests include biologically inspired robotics, novel mechanisms using smart materials, rehabilitation and assistive robotics, focusing on soft wearable robots

aubinPatrick Aubin’s research spans robotics and biomechanics with applications in medicine and rehabilitation. Dr. Aubin received his B.S., M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Electrical Engineering with a concentration in robotics and controls from the University of Washington, Seattle, WA, in 2004, 2006 and 2010, respectively. He worked as a Research Assistant at the Center of Excellence for Limb Loss Prevention and Prosthetic Engineering within the Department of Veterans Affairs, Seattle, WA from 2004 to 2010 before becoming a Whitaker International Biomedical Scholar and a U.S. Fulbright Scholarship grantee at Vilnius Gediminas Technical University in Vilnius, Lithuania.  Currently, Dr. Aubin is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University, where he is developing and evaluating upper and lower extremity next generation wearable robotic systems for performance augmentation and rehabilitation within the Institute’s Anticipatory Medical and Cellular Devices Platform and the Biologically Inspired Robotics Platform.

lumPeter S. Lum: Dr. Lum's area of study is the application of engineering tools and methods to assist with rehabilitation of movement following neurological injury. He is an Associate Professor and Chair of Biomedical Engineering at The Catholic University of America.  He also directs the Center for Applied Biomechanics and Rehabilitation Research (CABRR) at MedStar National Rehabilitation Hospital, and is a Research Health Scientist at the Washington DC Veterans Affairs Medical Center. He is currently developing robotic devices for rehabilitating hand and arm function, studying motor learning and performance limitations in individuals after stroke and amputation, and developing novel telerehabilitation technologies.

reinkensmeyerDavid Reinkensmeyer is Professor in the Departments of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Anatomy and Neurobiology, Biomedical Engineering, and Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the University of California at Irvine.  He received the B.S. degree in electrical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in electrical engineering from the University of California at Berkeley, in 1988, 1991, and 1993, respectively, studying robotics and the neuroscience of human movement.  He carried out postdoctoral studies at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago and Northwestern University Medical School from 1994 to 1997, building one of the first robotic devices for rehabilitation therapy after stroke.  He became an assistant professor at U.C. Irvine in 1997, establishing a research program that develops robotic and sensor-based systems for movement training and assessment following neurologic injuries and disease. He recently served as the chair of the National Science Foundation initiated International Study on Technology for Mobility, and is the lead researcher for iMove, a collaborative effort at U.C. Irvine focused on using technology to help restore human mobility.

wolbrechtEric T.Wolbrecht received the B.S. degree in mechanical engineering from Valparaiso University, Valparaiso, IN, in 1996, the M.S. degree in mechanical engineering from Oregon State University, Corvallis, in 1998, and the Ph.D. degree in mechanical and aerospace engineering from the University of California, Irvine, in 2007. He has worked as an engineer for John Deere and Yamaha. Dr. Wolbrecht is currently an Associate Professor in the Mechanical Engineering Department at the University of Idaho.  His research interests included robotic devices for rehabilitation, assist-as-needed control, nonlinear and adaptive control, and state-estimation.

sulzerJames Sulzer received his Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from Northwestern University and the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago in 2009.  After developing a lightweight, low-impedance powered knee brace, he investigated the effects of knee flexion assistance on people with Stiff-Knee gait after stroke.  He is currently an ETH Postdoctoral Fellow in the Rehabilitation Engineering Lab, investigating fMRI for novel brain-computer interfaces in sensorimotor learning and stroke rehabilitation.