AA Portnova, G Mukherjee, KM Peters, A Yamane, KM Steele (2018) “Design of a 3D-printed, open-source wrist-driven orthosis for individuals with spinal cord injury.” PLOSOne

Journal article in PLOSOne: In collaboration with the University of Washington Prosthetics and Orthotics Division, a user-centered design approach was used to improve the design and wearability of a passive, wrist-driven orthosis. To read the article in full, click HERE. To access the open-source print files, click HERE.

Orthotists in training assemble the 3D-printed parts of a new wrist-driven orthosis in the top image. The lower image showcases a user gripping a pen in his freshly donned orthosis.Background: Assistive technology, such as wrist-driven orthoses (WDOs), can be used by individuals with spinal cord injury to improve hand function. A lack of innovation and challenges in obtaining WDOs have limited their use. These orthoses can be heavy and uncomfortable for users and also time-consuming for orthotists to fabricate.

Purpose/Methods: The goal of this research was to design a WDO with user (N = 3) and orthotist (N = 6) feedback to improve the accessibility, customizability, and function of WDOs by harnessing advancements in 3D-printing.

Results: The 3D-printed WDO reduced hands-on assembly time to approximately 1.5 hours and the material costs to $15 compared to current fabrication methods. Varying improvements in users’ hand function were observed during functional tests, such as the Jebsen Taylor Hand Function Test. For example, one participant’s ability on the small object task improved by 29 seconds with the WDO, while another participant took 25 seconds longer to complete this task with the WDO. Two users had a significant increase in grasp strength with the WDO (13–122% increase), while the other participant was able to perform a pinching grasp for the first time.

The WDO designs are available open-source to increase accessibility and encourage future innovation.

Sasha Portnova featured in video – UW Undergraduate Academic Affairs

WDO_Sasha_AcademicAffairs_PicCongratulations to Sasha, a member of our lab who will be graduating this spring. Her work was chosen to be featured by UW’s Undergraduate Academic Affairs.

To watch the video follow this Youtube link or connect on Facebook (filmed and edited by Bryan Nakata).

“At the University of Washington, undergraduates like Sasha Portnova research issues that can impact the world. Portnova, a senior in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, uses her research to help solve the difficulties individuals with spinal cord injury may face. Growing up in Kazakhstan, Portnova was discouraged from studying engineering, which was viewed as a more typical male subject. After coming to the U.S. and enrolling in the University of Washington, she discovered her passion for engineering and helping others. This passion led her to began working on her project – a wrist assistive device for individuals who have lost hand movement. The 3-D printed device assists in hand movement for an estimated cost of $15. In addition to being cost-effective, the designs will be available online via open source for anyone to print their own. Along the way, she has presented her research to multiple conferences including Posters on the Hill in Washington D.C. After graduating this spring, Portnova’s next steps include obtaining a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering. She plans to use her passion for research to help others, specifically veterans.” – UW Undergraduate Academic Affairs



Michael MacConnell, Bradley Wachter, CJ Smith, and Sasha Portnova Present at the Undergraduate Research Symposium

Undergraduate Research Symposium graphic displaying May 20th in Mary Gates Hall.

Our undergraduate researchers presented in Mary Gates Hall today, presenting their research from 11am-1pm. Member of the community, faculty, and staff stopped by to hear about Bradley and CJ’s work developing an open-source proximal control orthosis, Sasha’s wrist-driven, wrist-hand orthosis, and Michael’s work on ankle foot orthoses as a rehabilitation tool. Great job, everyone!



CJ and Bradley, members of our research team, discuss the outcome measures of their proximal control device with interested community members. Michael MacConnell, a member of our research team, shares his research with members of the community. Sasha Portnova, a member of our research team, fields questions from an interested member of the community about her wrist-driven, wrist-hand orthosis.