Forschungsinstitut Technologie und Behinderung Project HATS





Project HATS

Hand Assessment and Treatment System

Short description

Foto of the HATS system
the HATS System, consisting of mobile Data
Acquisition Box and Assessment Tools
besides that is a print out

Methods currently being applied for hand assessment after hand injuries or hand surgery are based either on wide-spread simple mechanical instruments such as mechanical goniometers, plastic rulers, everyday tape measures, vigrometers, volumeters, dynamometers, and pinch gauges or on very expensive electronic hand assessment systems developed in the USA.

In the HATS project a hand assessment system has been developed that speeds up the processes of acquisition, visualisation, analysis, reporting, and management of patients hand data.

The HATS system supports therapists during hand assessment and avoids the drawbacks of other approaches: the labour intensive, time consuming and inaccurate measurements on the one hand, and the high price of the US systems on the other hand.

In particular the computer-based hand assessment system shall

  • reduce the time for hand assessment,
  • increase the accuracy and repeatability of measurements,
  • visualise the measured data and the improvements during therapy, and
  • support the writing of assessment reports.

The system consists of three main components:

  • a set of Assessment Tools,
  • a Data Acquisition Box, and
  • a stationary PC running the Data Management & Analysis Software.

Using the HATS system the hand therapist measures all relevant characteristics (range of active and passive movements of finger joints, active force of fingers and of the hand, oedema swelling etc.) of the patient's hand(s) with the help of the new developed Assessment Tools incorporating electronic sensors. Their outward appearance and usage are quite similar to the simple mechanical tools widely used; however, data are measured and transfered automatically to the Data Acquisition Box on request of the therapist (instead of hand-writing data onto spread-sheets). The Data Acquisition Box guides the therapist through the series of measurements, questions and observations of the patient's hands using multi-media menus. It serves as a portable recorder of the data, which is then transfered to the stationary PC. Here the Data Management & Analysis Software analyses and further processes the patient data. It visualises the data of a single assessment session as well as of a sequence of previous assessments by applying a variety of graphical representations of the hand. Furthermore, a semi-automatic Report Assistant supports the doctors and therapists in writing reports, e.g. for patient documentation or for purposes of insurance companies.

The HATS menu
a menue for tool-based
assessment of the movability of the finger joints

Focus of FTB

  • User requirements analysis
  • Development of the HATS software
  • Management of clinical evaluation

Project partners

Diploma thesis

  • Olaf Perlick & Frank Reins:
    Entwurf und Realisierung eines Werkzeugs zur Erfassung und Visualisierung von Patientendaten bei der Behandlung von Handkrankheiten
    Universität Dortmund, FB Informatik, 2/1998


  • H. Heck, Ch. Bühler, G. Suppelna, J. Schramm, M. Fathmann, O. Perlick, F. Reins, G. Bolmsjö, P. Hedenborn, R. Finney, M. Topping, T. Bishop, Ch. Simpson, K. Murray, R.D. Loynes, J. Dalley, Y. Wickramasinghe, S. Alcock, T. Gunning:
    Development of a System for Hand Assessment: An Overview of the HATS Project.
    Proceedings of the 4th European Conference for the Advancement of Assistive Technology, Thessaloniki, Greece, 29.09.?02.10.1997; In: G. Anogianakis, C. Bühler, M. Soede (Eds.): Advancement of Assistive Technology. Amsterdam Berlin Oxford Tokyo Washington/DC: IOS Press, 1997; ISBN 90-5199-361-7; pp. 179-184
  • Catherine Simpson, Mike Topping, Karen Murray, Helmut Heck, Christian Buehler, Gunnar Bolmsjö, P. Rolfe, Joerg Christian Schramm, Maria Fathmann, Jayne Dalley, Krysia Dzeidzic, R.D. Loynes, P. Jones:
    The Development of a High Technology Hand Assessment System.
    Abstract of the Free Paper presented at the BAHT Autmn Meeting, Nottingham, 24.09.1997; published in: The British Journal of Handtherapy, Vol. 2, No 7; November 1997
  • Catherine Simpson, Mike Topping, Karen Murray, Helmut Heck, Christian Bühler, Gunnar Bolmsjö, P. Rolfe, Yappa Wickramasinghe, Jörg Christian Schramm, Maria Fathmann, Jayne Dalley, R.D. Loynes:
    The Development of a High Technology Hand Assessment System.
    European Federation of Societies for Hand Therapy. Newsletter January 1998; pp. 10-12
  • H. Heck, Ch. Bühler, M. Topping:
    A System for Computer-Based Hand Assessment.
    Proceedings of the 6th European Congress on Research in Rehabilitation ECRR-98, Berlin, 31.5.- 4.6.1998; pp. 40-41
  • O. Perlick, H. Heck, M. Fathmann, C. Simpson, M. Topping, G. Bolmsjö:
    HATS: Development and Clinical Evaluation of a Computerised Hand-Assessment System.
    in: C. Bühler and H. Knops (Eds.): Assistive Technology on the Threshold of the New Millenium. Amsterdam Berlin Oxford Tokyo Washington/DC: IOS Press, 1999; ISBN 1-58603-001-9; pp. 545-550
  • Helmut Heck, Christian Bühler, Olaf Perlick, Frank Reins:
    The HATS System for Computerised Hand-Assessment.
    in: R. Vollmar, R. Wagner (Eds.): Computers Helping People with Special Needs. Proc. of ICCHP 2000, the 7th Intern. Conf. on Computers Helping People with Special Needs, Karlsruhe, Germany; pp. 297-302

Project data

Duration: 1/1997 - 3/1999

Funding: co-funded by European Commission within the TIDE-Programme.

Contact persons at FTB

  • Dr.-Ing. Helmut Heck (head of FTB development centre)
  • Prof. Dr.-Ing. Christian Bühler (head of instiute)

    Last Updated at Tuesday, 16 July 2013