|Flint Rehabilitation Devices' MusicGlove--Courtesy of Flint|
Physical therapy to help stroke patients regain hand motor function after a stroke is so highly repetitive that patients often struggle through it. Irvine,CA-based startup Flint Rehabilitation Devices has launched a device that could make that process more effective and less excruciating.
Its MusicGlove is a sensorized glove that allows users to play a therapy-based music game. It requires that patients complete specific hand movements such as a pincer grasp and a key pinch grip in tandem to scrolling notes on a touchscreen console. The developers liken it to the video game "Guitar Hero."
"Options for hand therapy are typically limited to using things like play-dough, rubber bands or simply following a handout of exercises," Dr. David Reinkensmeyer, professor of biomedical engineering at the University of California, Irvine, said in a statement. "People lose motivation to do these exercises and do not recover to their full potential."
"With MusicGlove, they can have fun with their therapy while receiving quantitative feedback on their performance. This makes it easy for them to stick to their regimen, and when users get better in the game, they are actually improving their hand function," he added.
The technology was developed by UC Irvine researchers, including Reinkensmeyer. He was also among the authors of a paper published earlier this year in the Journal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation.
The study was of 12 chronic stroke survivors with moderate weakness on one side of the body along with mild to severe hand impairment. The patients were randomly assigned to groups that experienced 6 one-hour sessions for one of three rehabilitation methods--MusicGlove, isometric grip training and conventional tabletop exercises guided by a physical trainer--over a two-week period in a different order for a total of 18 one-hour sessions.
In the trial, subjects benefited more from MusicGlove than conventional training to a statistically significant degree using a Box and Blocks test in which the patient moves as many 2.5 cm blocks one at a time from one compartment to another in 60 seconds. They also improved on the Box and Blocks test more than the patients who had undergone isometric therapy, but the difference wasn't statistically significant. There was no difference in the training types in a broader assessment of hand function.
Users reported greater ability to turn doorknobs, type, wash dishes, use silverware and bathe.
"Engaging with music offers a form of therapy that will keep users motivated to continue their rehabilitation regimen, and facilitates a user's hand's ability to recover after a stroke," Nizan Friedman, president and co-founder of Flint Rehabilitation Devices, said in a statement. "As music is naturally highly repetitive, people using MusicGlove typically make over 2,000 movements in a 45-minute session. In rehab, the number of repetitions is one of the most important factors for regaining hand function."
The device is FDA approved and sells for $4,199 for a clinic version and $1,149 for a home version.
Development of the MusicGlove was supported by grants from the National Institute of Health and the National Institute of Disability and Research Rehabilitation. It's already in use at rehabilitation programs including the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center, the University of California, Los Angeles and UC Irvine.
- here is the release and the study