Researchers develop low-cost stroke rehabilitation glove
By Ben Coxworth
April 27, 2011
When the use of a hand is lost due to a stroke, it's important to get that paralyzed hand moving again – this allows the brain and the body to "relearn" how to use it. A new approach to this problem has emerged in recent years with the development of powered devices like the Amadeo or the Rehabilitation Glove that enable patients to exercise passively until they recover sufficiently to start moving on their own. Now four students from Montreal's McGill University have created a prototype stroke recovery glove that would cost relatively little to produce, and that patients can use at home through a video game interface.
The Biomedical Sensor Glove was made by four final-year Mechanical Engineering undergraduates, supervised by Professor Rosaire Mongrain. McGill took the project on as a design request from tech company Jintronix Inc.
The glove itself incorporates inertial measurement units (IMUs) that track the movements of the wrist, palm and index finger. While wearing the glove, the patient uses the affected hand to play video games on an attached computer. Software on that computer processes the data from the IMUs, then displays the patient's progress via onscreen 3D models. That data is also sent to their physician, so their progress can be tracked remotely, thus reducing the need for trips to the clinic.
While similar products do already exist, they can cost up to US$30,000 according to McGill. Partially because of its less costly yet reportedly more accurate sensors, the Biomedical Sensor Glove can be made for just $1,000.
In an effort to raise funds for product development, Jintronix has now submitted the design to Grand Challenges Canada, a non-profit group that promotes the well-being of people in developing nations.