People with motor neuron diseases can benefit from repetitive training of their hands to improve strength, coordination, and ability to perform basic tasks. Virtual reality (VR) is a great enabler of this, allowing to create game routines where patients can practice hand motions in a mildly entertaining fashion. Clinical researchers at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University have created a system that takes advantage of haptic technology to boost the effectiveness of VR training.
They are using a device from Sensable Technologies which delivers force feedback to the user’s hand in response to interactions with objects in the virtual environment. The system has different levels of play, allowing rehab patients to advance to more difficult tasks once easy ones are completed. The haptic device also measures the user’s performance in task execution, which can be used as a gauge of how well a person is responding to therapy.
From Hong Kong Poly:
The effectiveness of this training programme was preliminarily confirmed, as a similar tool aimed to improve hand-writing was tested on the children at the Hong Kong Red Cross Princess Alexandra School. The results have shown a marked improvement in the time they needed to complete the task after two weeks of training. More tests and trials are on the way, and the team expect that a longer period of computer-assisted training will yield greater benefits.
The Hong Kong Polytechnic University: Integrating force feedback into therapies for impaired hands…