When people are suffering from a lack of motor function in an arm because of weak muscles, they are limited a great deal in their daily activities. Reduced arm and hand functions will lead to a decrease in independent living, because a large part of basic activities require fully functional arms. This may limit a person in reaching a full quality of life.
Dutch Robotics Project McArm (Motion Controlled Arm Support) aims to develop a smart dynamic arm support system. The product idea is to create a robotic arm that supports all the possible daily manual activities, and is made from lightweight materials such as carbon fiber. This system will make use of sensors that will pick up motor function from the user’s weak arm, and the McArm will provide extra support as needed. This is based on the assumption that users of a supportive arm should keep being challenged to perform physically as long as possible.
While many arm support systems are non-adaptive, the McArm is a smart system which will reconfigure autonomously when needed, to not completely make the affected arm unused. Non-adaptive systems, on the other hand, have the potential to let the patient undergo progressive disorders. This is because all the function of the affected arm is unused, and therefore the arm is no longer stimulated and loses even more function.