A stroke can result in devastating injury, such as impediments to speech and muscle movement. Survivors of stroke must go through physical therapy to rebuild their muscles and regain the ability to use their hands. This therapy can be productive, leading to restored hand function. While these exercises are helpful, they are not all that interesting. Many patients say that they find them repetitive and boring. But a new medical device that facilitates muscle movements in conjunction with computer games is showing potential as a new application of games in health care.
The device, called Supervised Care and Rehabilitation Involving Personal Telerobotics, or SCRIPT for short, was developed by researchers at the University of Hertfordshire, in England. SCRIPT consists of a glove fitted with sensors that monitor and assess the patient. A stroke can force the patient’s hand into a semi-permanent clenched position, along with a flexed risk, Reuters explains. SCRIPT aims to alleviate the impairment with repetitive, but fun, exercises performed while wearing the glove.
The SCRIPT glove works with games that appear on a computer screen. Patients use the glove to articulate objects that they see on the screen. In one game, they must try to grasp fruit and place it in a basket. The SCRIPT device records a patient’s performance and provides that information to the therapist, which allows the therapist to adjust the treatment remotely. That feature accomplishes two things: It frees up the therapist to treat multiple patients, and it allows patients to use the device at their own convenience in their own homes.
Shani Shamah, a survivor of two strokes, was not involved in the development of SCRIPT, but she tried it out was pleasantly surprised. “I’m only sorry I didn’t have the advantage of having this when I was in rehab,” she told Reuters. “It’s very boring when you just sit at a table and take a ball from a box and put it down on the table next to you … whereas here you can actually see, like with the fruit game you could pick up the fruit, put it in the basket, and that can be quite an achievement.”
The SCRIPT is still a prototype, and it will need additional investment to get it ready for the final design, which could take up to two years. But the research results so far show promise to help patients regain muscle movement in a better and more engaging way.
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