The CaptoGlove is the New Face of Stroke Rehabilitation

August 20, 2018
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Often, when a person thinks of virtual reality, they immediately visualize an intense gaming system complete with a headset and top of the line controllers. But while VR is considered the latest in must-have gaming technology, it’s so much more than that.

In our CaptoGlove review we briefly touched on how this glove can be used and how it can enhance a virtual reality gaming environment, but did you know that the manufacturer is currently developing software and running trials, preparing for the glove to make its debut in the medical world?

Virtual Reality’s Place in the Medical World

For those who survive a severe stroke, nothing can be more devastating than losing most of their mobility and the painful process that comes with relearning how to speak, and how to correctly use their limbs. It’s a challenging time for the patients, their families, and physical therapists who are searching for the right tools for the job.
It’s true that VR has been used in the healthcare field since the late 1990s, and it’s still widely used to this day to help patients who struggle with phobias and anxiety. But now, haptic gloves have found their place in the rehabilitation field.

There are a few gloves currently used to help stimulate nerves in the hands, helping to rehabilitate stroke victims and teach them all over again how to use their fingers, hands, and thumbs, but no glove comes quite as close to sheer versatility as the CaptoGlove.

Stroke Rehabilitation and Virtual Reality

Since 2005, the medical field has studied stroke rehabilitation treatment with the use of virtual reality technology. Using virtual reality in this setting involves simulating real-life activities that the patient can use to apply self-care skills in a safe, controlled environment.

After a stroke occurs, it’s not uncommon for the patient to lose motor function on one side of their body. In some cases, this damage is permanent, while in others, some motor function remains. However, in order to help the patient to regain motor function the patient is often put through several hours a week of intense physical therapy. Not only has VR rehabilitation treatment been proven to be just as effective if not more so, than traditional physical therapy treatment, but it’s also said to be more affordable.
This is where the CaptoGlove comes in.

Haptic glove-based treatment can focus on task-oriented arm training that’s designed to help the brain reprogram itself, forming brand-new neural connections. These connections promote recovery of motor skills in patients after a serious stroke.

Combined with the best VR headset, the patient will wear the glove and perform slow movements. The therapist will manipulate the onscreen image of the patient’s hand and arm, making their limbs appear to be working harder and faster than they really are in real life. Research has shown that this works to significantly boost a patient’s confidence level, increasing the likelihood that they’ll spontaneously begin to use the affected hand. The result is pretty phenomenal, allowing the limb to recover more completely when compared to results using standard physical therapy techniques.

Haptic Feedback Technology in a Physical Therapy Environment

In terms of recent technology, many researchers feel that the medical world has barely scratched the surface regarding what virtual reality can do and what it can mean in terms of new and innovative treatments in the medical world. Stroke survivors can now take advantage of how virtual reality can allow them to practice repetitive motions and measure the strength and mobility in each digit, allowing the physical therapist to get a clear view regarding where their patient is at in terms of progress and what type of exercises they should be performing in order to obtain improved strength in specific digits. The ability to measure strength and mobility, thanks to the CaptoGlove, is like nothing the medical world has ever seen before. However, the software for this PT treatment is still in the works and more studies need to be performed before it’s widely available in the medical field.

Giving Patients a Voice

In a gaming environment, the glove can be used much like a controller or as a mouse. Its been used in military-grade flight simulation tests and has made a huge splash in the gaming industry, thanks to its versatility and accuracy.

But in the medical field, there are still some bugs to be worked out. As an example, the glove cannot recognize certain symptoms the patient may be experiencing that can affect their mobility. However, on the same token, the glove is able to report some symptoms the patient cannot, especially if they’re suffering from cognitive or speech issues. This can include the involuntary inability to move caused by sporadic freezing episodes. The new software that’s underway is currently focused on capturing this type of interrupted mobility, giving scientists and the medical community as a whole, an entirely new view of what happens in patients suffering from neurological diseases and stroke rehab patients.

Are There any Treatment Drawbacks?

As we’ve said, the software is not quite ready for a wide release, and there are still some gray areas in regard to what exactly this glove is capable of, in terms of future potential. One notable drawback is the fact that the glove will only work for patients who still have some mobility left in their hand. The glove cannot be used by patients who have been diagnosed with a full paralysis of the limb.

Haptic Glove Use in The Future

The introduction of the CaptoGlove has been an exciting event for both the gaming community and medical community alike. As the software developers focus on working out the kinks, physical therapists anxiously await the full release of the new software program that’s designed to help stroke victims gain back some of the independence they lost after their stroke. Considering the price of the CaptoGlove is relatively cheap compared to other pieces of physical therapy equipment, you can expect to see the glove widely used in rehab centers all over the country in the near future.

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