People living with cerebral palsy and other motor impairment syndromes often take the Functional Dexterity Test (FDT) to assess how accurately they are able to use their hands. This involves performing a set of routines using pegs and a board with matching holes while a clinician observes and makes notes on how the hands are doing. This introduces a lot of subjectivity into the test and requires training and clinicians’ time, an expensive commodity. Students at Rice University developed an electronic version of the test that provides quantitative data on the actual movement of the peg.
The peg has motion sensors built in that send out their readings wirelessly to a nearby computer via Bluetooth. It also comes with a board that has holes and pop-up hurdles on one side, and trace paths to follow on the other. Special software is used to interpret the data from the peg, and surely metrics can be created to standardize the test.
More about how the test dexterity test works:
The DeXcellence device is the work of five Rice seniors who designed it at the Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen as their capstone project in collaboration with Shriners Hospital for Children, Houston, and Rice advisers Gary Woods, a professor in the practice of computer technology in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Eric Richardson, a lecturer in bioengineering.
It would complement the device that inspired it, a low-tech pegboard for evaluation known as a Functional Dexterity Test (FTD), in the clinic of Shriners’ doctor Gloria Gogola, who suggested the students look into a way to quantify movement.
“We got to go there and watch patients use the peg board, and we could see them cheat,” said bioengineering major Sonia Garcia, a member of the team with Shaurya Agarwal (mechanical engineering), Allison Garza (mechanical engineering), Vivaswath Kumar (electrical and computer engineering) and Andrew Schober (bioengineering and computational and applied math). “Instead of turning the peg in the air, they would drop it and then move it into the hole.”
The DeXcellence device doesn’t let that happen. Their portable board has two sides. One has targets and pop-up hurdles. The patient must pick the cylinder up from the center of one target and turn it 180 degrees while moving over the hurdle to the center of the next target. On the flip side is a set of paths the patient tracks with the peg.