Dr. Vanesa Bochkezanian and patient Robynne Clifton undertake an early trial of the bionic glove
Dr. Vanesa Bochkezanian and patient Robynne Clifton undertake an early trial of the bionic glove

How bionic glove could change Rocky woman’s life

REGAINING movement in her hands has long been a dream for polio sufferer Robynne Clifton, one that may soon become reality thanks to medical advances.

The 71 year old was first diagnosed with the degenerative illness at eight months old and has subsequently led a life wrought with its share of challenges.

However, the development of a bionic glove could provide those like Ms Clifton - along with spinal injury patients - a new-found chance at independence.

CQUni Neurological Physiotherapy lecturer Dr Vanesa Bochkezanian is one of the minds behind the project presented online for The Bionics Queensland Challenge 2020 at the weekend.

"It's a combination of electrical stimulation with a soft robotic in the form of a glove to support finger and wrist movement," she said.

 

Parts of the device helped Robynne Clifton feel some sensation in her hands after seven years.
Parts of the device helped Robynne Clifton feel some sensation in her hands after seven years.

"It works with different types of electrical stimulations to activate muscles otherwise not able to be controlled by the brain because of different neurological conditions."

Its function is further interpreted by a machine-learned algorithm through an easy-to-use interface.

Inspired by past technologies, Dr Bochkezanian hopes to see the device receive some funding to allow further advancement of the medical bionics field.

"It's quite unique because it's a combination of previous technologies that have been developed in the area of the rehabilitation for physical disabilities," she said.

"We're at the early stages of developing the device and doing some pilot testing and controlled trials.

"Being granted some money would allow us to have validation and development of the device."

The Intuitive Grasp team would then look to offer the glove for commercialisation, in addition to its introduction to the wider rehabilitation setting.

 

Dr Bochkezanian believes the bionic glove would provide life-changing capabilities to those living with some form of disability.
Dr Bochkezanian believes the bionic glove would provide life-changing capabilities to those living with some form of disability.

 

"I'm really excited about this opportunity. I think it will make a big difference in people's lives and that's what I really care about," she said.

"My big passion is to improve the lives of people with disability and offer them the best solutions that there can be."

Ms Clifton understandly holds high hopes for the development, as during its initial pilot trial she felt sensation in her hands again for the first time in seven years.

"I'm praying that Vanesa gets money to develop this. To actually lift a fork or to hold a cup would be amazing. I can't really put it into words"

Battling the effects of polio once more, she admits a development like the glove would make her independent living without a carer significantly easier.

"I feel honoured that I've been asked. You sort dream of something like this. It would make a huge amount of difference for a lot of people," she said.

Dr Bochkezanian and her team members will now head into next month's grand final after they were yesterday announced as nine of 13 successful entrants.