Inventor: Ir. Johannes Luijten
Of the 44,000 people suffering a stroke in the Netherlands each year, 70% are left with permanent unilateral paralysis of the arm. Some will go to a clinic for rehabilitation, while others will make daily visits to an outpatient treatment centre. For his graduation project in the cyber-physical systems research group (Faculty of Industrial Design Engineering), Johannes Luijten designed an exoskeleton that enables patients to do exercises on their own. Built-in software allows the physical therapist to change the settings by simply demonstrating the correct movements to the exoskeleton. Seven small motors – ‘actuators’ – are distributed across the shoulder. They support the patient’s movements. This makes it possible for the shoulder, one of the body’s most complex joints, to rotate almost completely. The movements stimulate the brain, helping patients to learn how to use their arms again. Luijten’s design is modular. The arm can be removed to train just the elbow, wrist or hand. Together with Luijten, TU Delft student Gijs den Butter set up the company Adjuvo Motion. They expect to complete their second prototype by September. They are now looking for development and distribution partners, as well as investors. In 2019, they hope to bring the exoskeleton to the market for rehabilitation clinics and, later, for individual patients. The design
focuses on rehabilitation. In the future, it may also be used to assist with daily tasks. ‘It will be important to reduce the weight. The total weight of the first prototype was 12 kilograms, while the arm itself weighed 1.5 kilograms. The next prototype will be much lighter,’ Luijten promises. Adjuvo Motion received a grant from the STW Technology Foundation and is finalist in the startup competition of New Venture.