The initiative is part of the Supervised Care and Rehabilitation Involving Personal Tele-robotics (SCRIPT) project which aims to develop rehabilitation technologies for use at home to make therapy sessions more enjoyable.
The robotic glove consists of two prototype devices that fit over the patient’s hand, attaching to each individual finger and strapping around the wrist and forearm. The glove is then connected to game software that encourages the patient to move their arm, wrist and hand in certain ways, such as to control a clam eating fish or navigate a crocodile around obstacles.
eHealth records of the patient’s performance can then be sent to their therapist in order to monitor progress and tailor follow-up treatment and exercises.
“Our goal was to make motivating therapies available to people to practice at home using this system, hoping that they have a vested interest to practice and will do so,” said project leader, senior lecturer in adaptive systems at the University’s School of Computer Science, Dr Farshid Amirabdollahian.
“We tried this system with 30 patients and found that patients indeed practiced at home, on average around 100 minutes each week, and some showed clinical improvements in their hand and arm function,” continued Dr Amirabdollahian.
Dr Amirabdollahian and his team are currently working on a follow-up project to improve the device and are seeking funding to produce the prototype commercially.