Hand Function in Teens With Cerebral Palsy Improved by PlayStation-Based System

by Rajshri on  March 19, 2010 at 9:08 PM News on IT in Healthcare
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 Hand Function in  Teens With Cerebral Palsy Improved by PlayStation-Based  System
Rutgers University engineers have modified a home video game, which has shown promise in improving hand function in teenagers with cerebral palsy.

In a pilot trial with three participants, the system enhanced the teens' abilities to perform a range of daily personal and household activities.

The modified system combined a Sony PlayStation 3 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, collaborated with clinicians at the Indiana University School of Medicine to deploy systems in participants' homes for up to 10 months.

Grigore Burdea, professor of electrical and computer engineering and director of the Rutgers Tele-Rehabilitation Institute, said:

"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."

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 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.

Meredith Golomb, associate professor of neurology at the Indiana University School of Medicine, said: "All three teens were more than a decade out from their perinatal strokes, yet we showed that improvement was still possible.

"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 volunteers 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.

Burdea said: "Systems like this have the potential for widespread deployment in outpatient clinics or the homes of people needing rehabilitation services for any number of illnesses or injuries.

"Well-designed custom games are likely to hold patients' attention and motivate them to complete their exercises, versus conventional therapy regimens, which patients may find boring or tedious."

A description of the modified system and its use in the pilot trial has been published in the journal, IEEE Transactions on Information Technology in Biomedicine.

Source: ANI

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Traditional Occupational and Physical therapy provides the patient task orientated training [TOT] in the form of intensive repetition of everyday functional or active daily living tasks. Motor/ sensory feedback from the result of the task allows correction in the planning, initialization and performance of the task and assists in rehabilitation. At the same time the intensive performance of these tasks will improve movement ability e.g strength and range of motion.

Of course it is essential that the patient remains motivated and challenged to continue exercising and this is where computer games keeps the patient's interest and provides the challenge to continue gross motor movement fitness, strength and balance exercises.

However the WII or play station does not provide isolated and coordinated finger and wrist fine movement training. Instead there is the need for a dedicated rehabilitation glove and software. Research with the Hand Tutor has shown that challenging games and biofeedback provides patients with the motivation to continue intensive repetitive fine motor finger and wrist exercises. The glove is easy and quick to put on even by the patient themselves as it has been designed for rehabilitation and not research.

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