Upper limb functional difficulties involving just the hand, portions of the arm, or the whole arm can arise from a variety of conditions. Paralysis following a stroke is a common cause of upper limb difficulty but you can also lose strength, flexibility, and movement as a result of accidents, recovery from surgery, and a range of neurological, orthopedic, and pediatric conditions. Rehabilitation can often correct or significantly improve movement and strength, but patient compliance with physical therapy regimens is a common problem. Using stress balls or other common tools for upper limb rehab are considered boring by patients, who often discontinue their use.
British startup GripAble, co-founded by a clinical neuroscientist, gamifies upper limb rehabilitation with a whole-hand, squeezable controller used to play games on a mobile device. The device is wireless, lightweight, and flexible like Theraputty. According to the company, the hand grip measures grip strength like a dynamometer and can exercise whole arm movement and contraction. GripAble is both an assessment tool and a rehabilitation device. Playing games with GripAble can be highly motivating and provides instant feedback while playing therapy games. The software can also display movement guides to help patients do the exercises involved with each game correctly. While patients play games, exercise compliance and progress can be transmitted to clinicians and caregivers.
GripAble is seeking more funding while it continues to test the device and the games with patients in various rehab facilities. After testing with more than 500 international patients in homes and hospitals, the company has determined that GripAble can be used in upper limb therapy by more than 93% of patients with hand and arm conditions. According to the company, “GripAble engages patients, helping them get a grip on their upper limb therapy.”