Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

MS in Biomedical Engineering (M.S.B.E.)

Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Stephanie Carey, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

Robert Frisina, Ph.D.

Committee Member

William Lee, Ph.D.

Committee Member

John Carter, M.D.


dynamic, fingers, function, range of motion, therapy


Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease affecting nearly 1% of the world’s population with symptoms such as inflammation, pain, and reduced strength [1]. Physicians and scientists work to develop pharmaceuticals and medical devices aimed at decreasing the symptoms associated with RA to better the lives of those affected. One of the most recent developments is the addition of thermal therapy gloves to the array of upper limb orthoses available to patients with RA. It was hypothesized that this study will show that orthoses in the form of thermal therapy gloves are beneficial to the patients by reducing symptoms such as pain and allowing them an increased range of motion and overall hand functionality. Patients in stage 2 were recruited and asked to first complete a personal history survey including the Health Assessment Questionnaire (HAQ) [2] and Pain Catastrophizing Scale (PCS) [3]. Range of motion tasks and the Arthritis Hand Function Test (AHFT) [4] were completed to determine the effect of two thermal therapy gloves on the range of motion and activities of daily living. The data suggests that the use of thermal therapy orthoses does provide a psychological advantage in the form of reduced perceived pain along with the advantage of being able to complete activities previously believed to be impossible for participants to complete. Additionally, it is suggested that heat-generating material be used in the manufacturing of these orthoses in order to remove the need for any further design modifications. Future studies should be conducted in order to analyze the long-term effects of these orthoses along with the possible psychological benefits of their use.