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Modified Home Video Game May Improve Hand Function
Video games can also be used for
rehabilitation purposes; © Rutgers
Engineers at Rutgers University have modified a popular home video game system to help teenagers with cerebral palsy improve hand functions. In a pilot trial the system improved the teens' abilities to perform a range of daily personal and household activities.
The modified system combined a video game console and a commercial gaming glove with custom-developed software and games to provide exercise routines aimed at improving hand speed and range of finger motion.
The Rutgers engineers, who are members of the university's Tele-Rehabilitation Institute, worked with clinicians at the Indiana University School of Medicine to deploy systems in participants' homes for up to 10 months.
"Based on early experience, the system engages the interest of teens with cerebral palsy and makes it convenient for them to perform the exercises they need to achieve results," said Grigore Burdea, professor of electrical and computer engineering and director of the Rutgers Tele-Rehabilitation Institute.
Each system communicated via the Internet to allow the Indiana and Rutgers researchers to oversee participants' exercise routines and evaluate the effectiveness of the systems. The system is an example of both virtual rehabilitation, where patients interact with computer-generated visual environments to perform exercises, and tele-rehabilitation, where patients perform exercises under remote supervision by physical or occupational therapists.
"All three teens were more than a decade out from their perinatal strokes, yet we showed that improvement was still possible ," said Meredith Golomb, associate professor of neurology at the Indiana University School of Medicine and Riley Hospital for Children pediatric neurologist in this study. "The virtual reality telerehabiltiaiton system kept them exercising by rewarding whatever movements they could make, and all three showed significant progress in hand function."
Golomb oversaw the pilot study where participants were asked to exercise their affected hand 30 minutes a day, five days a week, using games custom developed by the Rutgers engineers. The games were calibrated to the individual teen's hand functionality. An on-screen image of a hand showing normal movements guided the participants in their exercises.
After three months of therapy, two participants progressed from being unable to lift large, heavy objects to being able to do so. Participants showed varying improvement in such activities as brushing teeth, shampooing, dressing, and using a spoon. At 10 months, one participant was able to open a heavy door.
REHACARE.de; Source: Rutgers University
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( Source: REHACARE.de )