Combining robotics and music therapy, MusicGlove helps stroke patients regain hand mobility.

Although strokes are fatal for about 130,000 people in the U.S. each year, more than 650,000 Americans survive. But life doesn’t always return to normal for patients once they’re released from the hospital. After their brains have been deprived of oxygen, many suffer from long-term injuries, with loss of basic hand function a common side effect.

Therapy can help patients regain strength, but one of the key problems is motivation. To restore functionality, patients must repeat the same motions for exhaustive periods of time so the brain can re-learn. Touching each finger to the thumb might sound easy for some, but for stroke patients, doing the same task over and again can be so burdensome and frustrating, they’re likely to give up on it altogether.

Top photo courtesy of Flint Rehabilitation Devices

Top photo courtesy of Flint Rehabilitation Devices

 

In place of traditional hand therapy a group of musicians and robotics experts developed the MusicGlove through company Flint Rehabilitation Devices. Designed to help patients once they leave the hospital, MusicGlove is a wearable device that takes ordinarily tedious exercises and turns them into a musical game.

The glove comes with a tablet and as users move and touch their fingers together to the music. The system looks similar to a Guitar Hero video game, but instead of punching colorful keys on a plastic instrument, users press fingers to thumb using pincer and pincher movements that track progress and promote hand function.

Research indicates that this alternative therapy was more successful than traditional physical therapy with participants regaining between 20 and 30 percent more motor function. The actual movements do not differ greatly from hand therapy, but by making the exercise fun and engaging, patients are much more likely to stick to the regime. 

Learn more about MusicGlove at the Flint Rehabilitation Devices website and by watching the CBS New York video below:

                  Top photo courtesy of Flint Rehabilitation Devices