A rehab device has been launched that enables stroke patients with arm disabilities to do more physical training.
The GripAbleTM device, created by researchers at Imperial College London and clinicians at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, consists of a lightweight electronic handgrip that interacts wirelessly with a standard PC tablet to enable the user to play arm-training games.
To use it, patients squeeze, turn, or lift the handgrip, and it vibrates in response to their performance whilst playing. The device uses a novel mechanism, which can detect the tiny flicker movements of severely paralysed patients and channel them into controlling a computer game.
In a clinical trial of 30 patients, researchers from Imperial College London, the University of Southampton and Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust found the device enabled on average 104 upper limbs (UL) repetitions per day, whereas conventional therapy achieved 15 UL repetitions per day.
Michelle Broderick, lead author of the study and Clinical Research Therapist in Stroke at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, said: “Stroke is a major cause of arm weakness in the UK. It can significantly impact survivors lives making it hard for them to do routine daily tasks, limiting their independence.
“Previous studies have shown that repetitive exercise is vital for improving arm weakness, but this can be difficult due to resource constraints within healthcare settings, as well as the range of challenges faced by stroke survivors during their recovery, which can limit their ability to initiate or engage in independent exercise or rehabilitation activities.”