Neucuff Soft Robotic Exoskeleton

Concept animation of the Neucuff by Edmund Earle

I developed an open-source soft robotic elbow orthosis for Super-Releaser.

The Neucuff is a soft robotic exoskeleton that’s worn on the elbow. It has inflating elements that become rigid as they’re pressurized, extending the arm. It was designed for all-day cerebral palsy therapy as an alternative to discrete physical therapy sessions.

Kari Love and I developed this project, working with the input of Brad Searle of the Reach For the Stars Foundation. It also had the support of the Elab program facilitated by the NYCEDC, which Super-Releaser graduated from in 2016. I designed the inflating elements, fixtures, control system, and testing equipment to evaluate performance.

Orthotic exoskeletons can be powerful tools for rehabilitation. They offer freedom and independence for anyone suffering from a movement disorder. Unfortunately they can be expensive, difficult to use, and uncomfortable. Small imperfections in the exoskeleton’s fit can result in serious injuries. Most devices have to be fit with the help of a prosthetist over multiple visits. This means growing children need many expensive prostheses and doctor’s visits as they develop. Soft robotics offers an avenue to apply force evenly across the body with an exoskeleton that is as gentile as it is strong. Being conformal by nature means a single design can fit a wide range of people and adjust to how their bodies change over time.

This project also owes a huge debt to Colin Foran and Edmund Earle for helping conceptualize and render the design. You can find more information on the project at Hackaday.IO