A research team from Georgia Tech has been working on a rehab glove that is already showing effectiveness for people with limited hand motor skills and proprioception due to spinal injury. The electronic Mobile Music Touch (MMT) glove works with a piano and vibrates individual fingers to point to which keys should be pressed.
Using the MMT, people in the study practiced playing the piano for thirty minutes three times a week, and followed up with the glove but without the piano (air piano?), and saw considerable improvement at a time when traditional therapy is usually no longer effective.
From Georgia Tech:
The MMT system works with a computer, MP3 player or smart phone. A song, such as Ode to Joy, is programmed into a device, which is wirelessly linked to the glove. As the musical notes are illuminated on the correct keys on the piano keyboard, the gadget sends vibrations to “tap” the corresponding fingers. The participants play along, gradually memorizing the keys and learning additional songs.
However, these active learning sessions with MMT were not the primary focus of the study. The participants also wore the glove at home for two hours a day, five days a week, feeling only the vibration (and not playing the piano). Previous studies showed that wearing the MMT system passively in this manner helped participants learn songs faster and retain them better. The researchers hoped that the passive wearing of the device would also have rehabilitative effects.
At the end of the study, participants performed a variety of common grasping and sensation tests to measure their improvement. Those who used the MMT system performed significantly better than those who just learned the piano normally.