Every year, nearly five million people across the world are afflicted by a stroke (according to the World Heart Federation – WHF). The WHF further expects a significant increase in stroke mortality rates over the next 20 years. These rates might triple in Sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America and the Middle East. Neofect – a Seoul-based health-care technology company, recently released its latest smart rehabilitation solution for stroke patients that need assistance relearning hand motion. The company creates diagnostic and therapy devices for upper extremity rehabilitation. Their devices are used both in rehabilitation facilities and in homecare settings specifically for hand, arm and shoulder therapy. Their approach is to create portable functional devices that are based on biofeedback processes, in which even the slightest movement of the patient’s arm or hand can be visualized on monitors and optimized through movement tasks. In addition to their guided software solutions for further rehabilitation in the patient’s home, Neofect also produces professional software solutions for clinics and rehab facilities that may be used in individual and group therapy sessions.
Neofect's product, the Rapael Smart Glove, is a lightweight wearable rehabilitation glove designed to assist with the recovery of hand and arm movement for stroke patients. Therapies to regain movement focus on repetitive iterations and coordination of hand and arm movements in the company’s proprietary virtual reality-type setting. The glove is equipped with built-in sensors ensuring precise measurements of the rehabilitation exercise movements. The smart glove has sensors that capture (in terms of inertial measurement units) every motion of hand and wrist movements. In addition, bending sensors can detect pliable movement alterations in any direction. All sensors are connected to a system that tracks and calculates individual finger movement. An application is available to further improve usability.
Neofect’s strategy is to add gamification elements in order to increase motivation and ensure long-lasting patient engagement for otherwise monotonous exercise regimens. The gamification elements are designed to maintain patient interest, providing lasting motivation for the entire duration of the rehabilitation therapy. The glove is created to encourage neural plasticity via individualized/customized exercises supplemented with gamification elements.
Within the gamification mode, key design elements are focused on ensuring user-retention and compelling interest. The games are updated each month and are created specifically for a targeted rehabilitation session emphasizing a particular set of movements. For example, an exercise that simulated the squeezing of an orange is created to target finger flexion and extension, while a wine-pouring exercise helps retrain forearm pronation and supination.
Another key element that would support and further advances in the neurorehabilitation field focuses on tracking and data analysis. The system records all form of therapy and practices used for and by the patient while uploading all the relevant data so that both the patient and their physical therapist can monitor all forms of progress. Updates and training tasks are based on the patient's activity level and the system can create new exercises and tasks based on patient’s data and advancement.
The Rapael glove is a prime example of the ingenuity that will fuel progress in the field of robot assistive rehabilitation devices. Beyond being an innovative product, it is one of the most affordable products available on the market. Patients can rent the device for less than a 100 US dollars per month, while hospitals can purchase the glove for 15,000 USD (Tyromotion’s Armadeo costs $100,000). The lower price tag would increase access to quality care and help therapists achieve better clinical outcomes for their patients.
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Neurorehabilitation Robotics Ltd. is a private company focused on delivering effective and measurable primary care to patients suffering from different forms of neural damage by supplementing traditional therapy with robotics-assisted protocols.