At first glance, the device shown in this picture resembles a robotic prosthetic that might help patients move their hands. In fact, the device is passive and is designed to accurately measure a patient’s hand motions, right down to individual fingers.
This is a device called the Rapael Smart Glove, and it was created to help physical therapists and other healthcare professionals create more effective treatment programs for patients recovering from a stroke or an injury. One problem with traditional exercises is that they rely on the manipulation of physical objects and the tasks are not particularly relevant or engaging, which makes it difficult for some patients to maintain their motivation during treatment sessions. Also, traditional programs provide very little measured data on the patient’s performance.
The Rapael Smart Glove has many sensors that can detect and measure complex hand motions. It is paired with a system of computer games that give the patient different tasks to perform, and rewards them with higher scores as they improve. It also collects detailed data about the range of motion that can be used to track progress and guide decisions about the rehab treatment. Clinical trials have demonstrated that the system is more effective than traditional methods. The company hopes that eventually they will be able to offer the system to patients to use in their own homes, to make treatment more convenient and to eliminate trips to clinical settings.