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Engineering
  

Active Hand Rest: Stabilizing a Surgeon's Hand

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Right now, it's made of aluminum, plywood, geared motors, and a piece of foam rubber. But a University of Utah professor and his students are convinced that their invention will steady the hands of surgeons, artists, and people with conditions like cerebral palsy.

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"We all do precision things with our fingertips at some point, whether it's signing our name or we're going through and painting or doing some fine precision task," William Provancher, Ph.D., a mechanical engineer at the University of Utah, in Salt Lake City, told Ivanhoe.

Designed by mechanical engineers, the motorized active hand rest takes the inevitable fatigue and shaky hand out of the equation by supporting the working hand and moving along with it.

"He's subtly leaning his wrist side to side, and it's allowing the hand rest to know that he's intending it to move in a particular way," Dr. Provancher explained.

The active hand rest allows Mark to draw precisely, compared to his best effort of tracing a circle freehand. The active hand rest can also be set up to follow the stylus, or whatever tools the user is holding.

Don Bloswick, Ph.D., of the University of Utah, specializes in ergonomics -- making the tools of the job fit the worker. He's excited about the potential.

"It's the interface that minimizes force, optimizes precision, and reduces fatigue, and that reduction in fatigue also increases efficiency," Dr. Bloswick explained.

You can see how the active hand rest could help surgeons, artists, sculptors, and folks with motor disabilities. Dr. Provancher says there are other uses that he hasn't even imagined yet.

Right now, Dr. Provancher's active hand rest only works on one plane -- moving side-to-side, but he's planning on developing a 3-D prototype. He hopes to have some version of the active hand rest on the market in the next year or two.

The Human Factors and Ergonomics Society contributed to the information contained in the TV portion of this report.

Click here to Go Inside This Science or contact:

Prof. William Provancher
(801) 581-4119
wil@mech.utah.edu

Lois Smith
Human Factors and Ergonomics Society
Santa Monica, CA 90406
(310) 394-1811
http://www.hfes.org

lois@hfes.org


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