Robotic gloves that aim to help stroke victims suffering from paralysis have been developed by the University of Hertfordshire.
The gloves are fitted with leaf springs and sensors that detect muscle motion in the hand and forearm while patients play games on a simple interface as part of their daily therapy exercise.
While the patient plays the games, which progress in difficulty at later stages during rehabilitation, a healthcare professional is able to monitor their progress through their own device, remotely from the patient’s home.
This means that therapists can tailor treatments and arrange follow-ups form their office.
The two prototype robotic gloves, which were in development for three years, are now past the proof of concept stage, have been trialled on patients and is ready to enter into production, the team said.
Dr Farshid Amirabdollahian, a rehabilitation robot expert at the university, and co-ordinator of the €4,643,983 project said: “This project focused on therapies for stroke patients at home. Our goal was to make motivating therapies available to people to practise at home using this system, hoping that they have a vested interest to practise and will do so.
“We tried this system with 30 patients and found that patients indeed practised at home, on average around 100 minutes each week, and some showed clinical improvements in their hand and arm function”.
The team is looking for funding to turn this prototype into a product that can be found on UK shelves to assist the large number of stroke patients who have been discharged from hospital care, but still need therapy to regain full movement to their hands.
Gaming technology like Microsoft's Kinect has been considered for facial palsy therapy, using the facial recognition feature to monitor movements during exercise routines with healthcare professionals.