‘Guitar Hero’-Style Video Game Makes Recovery Possible For Stroke Patients

MusicGlove is a Guitar Hero-style video game that allows stroke patients to recover effectively. It’s the first FDA-approved rehabilitation device that uses video games to help patients regain mobility in their hands, says Popular Science.

There have been similar gloves released on the market that helps stroke patients, but MusicGlove is one of the few that’s available for use at home. While wearing the gloves, patients will perform a series of hand positions that allows them to play along to music that sounds similar to the popular Guitar Hero video game. The glove will also measure the speed and strength of the movements, so they can track their improvement over time.

“Seeing their progress actually helps patients stay motivated,” says Nizan Friedman, the CEO of Flint Rehabilitation Devices, that manufacturer of MusicGlove.

Results from clinical trials show that stroke patients using MusicGlove showed more mobility than patients who performed conventional exercises. MusicGlove patients were to turn a door knob or use the bathroom independently. The patients also reported how fun this Guitar Hero-style game was to play. They continue to play it, even after their motor skills improve.

Out of the 700,000 people that suffer from strokes each year in the United States, only 10 percent fully recover. That’s because most patients don’t keep up with their therapy after leaving the hospital. In addition, patients reportedly get bored of the repetitive exercises used to strengthen their hands and muscles and improve their dexterity.

“They’re left at home, with just a list of exercises that the therapist gives them to do. It’s just not motivating, people don’t continue the therapy.”

Video games, like Guitar Hero, have shown to have great success with stroke patients. Not only are these simulated games fun to play, but they also have patients coming back for more practice. The hand movements are somewhat similar to the movements one makes while playing a guitar.

The MusicGlove asks patients to pinch and grip the notes on a touchscreen tablet. These should be the same exercises that patients should be advised to practice upon leaving the hospital.

“In rehab the real elements to recovery is high repetition, doing a movement many times, and being motivated to do it day in day out.”

MusicGlove is now releasing a home version, which originally sold as a glove and a tablet computer designed specifically for it. The company also offers a version for therapists that includes a desktop computer that comes with MusicGlove software. Having stroke patients perform tasks on the computer is important because it makes it easy and accessible for those who don’t tablets, and it’s easy for therapists who don’t want to learn how to use new software.

[Image: Erica Zabowski]