The Neu Hand developed by Professor Leenta Grobler at North West University's engineering department. Photo: Supplied.

PRETORIA - The North West University has developed the "Neu Hand" - an interactive wrist orthosis which helps accident and stroke survivors' rehabilitation through reigniting their senses and restore functionality of the arms.

"We call it the Neu Hand because it is a hand rehabilitation device for people with stroke or people who have been involved in accidents and lost mobility of their hands. When you put the exoskeleton on top of the hand which is not working, we connect it [the exoskeleton] to a sensor which will activate some movements for gripping, writing, and for typing," the NWU's Katlareng Polori said at the ongoing Science Forum South African Innovation Bridge 2019 (SFSAIB) in Pretoria.

"That will relay the message back to the brain, then the brain will start recognising slowly and opening up for the mobility to come back. This is a 3D printed exoskeleton. 3D printing is much cheaper, and faster. You can print many products."

Polori said the "neu hand" was developed by Professor Leenta Grobler at the NWU's Engineering Department in 2017. 

"For the development of this, we worked with physiotherapists because it assists them with their patients, for them to be able to monitor the patients' progress in recovering. The report from the sensor goes to the patient's phone and the physiotherapist can monitor a patient's progress," she added.

Photo: Supplied.

Polori said portable device allows patients greater flexibility as they can travel with it. 

"This is a cost effective innovation. There are currently many exoskeletons in the market but our IP lies within the sensor and the communication algorithms," said Polori.

She said there is a prototype of the Neu Hand, but the project required funding for clinical trials.

"After the clinical trials then we can be able to go to the market," said Polori.

The apex science forum has drawn thousands of delegates to Pretoria. 

This year, the Innovation Bridge (IB) a technology matchmaking and showcasing event, and the Science Forum South Africa (SFSA) - previously separate events - have joined forces to in a bid to serve the South African innovation ecosystem. The IB and the SFSA are taking place under one roof at the CSIR's International Conference Centre in Pretoria under the theme: Igniting Conversations About Science For Innovation With Impact.

African News Agency (ANA)