For stroke patients, rehab can be just as challenging mentally as physically. The frustration of the body not doing what the mind wants combined with repetitive tasks can make patients give up. That’s prompted a company called Neofect to spend years developing a way to make rehab fun — and more effective.
The result of their efforts is the Rapael glove. Neofect has been showing off their connected glove for years while they’ve been doing research and chasing FDA approval, which they’ve now gotten.
Now available, the Rapael glove is made for stroke victims who have lost full movement in their hands. It’s outfitted with sensors and conductors — when stroke victims perform rehab exercises, the glove will give electrical feedback to stimulate movement, then send data back to a program to help guide the recovery program.
The companion software is what makes rehab a little less dull. Neofect has turned usual rehab actions — pinching, grabbing, flexing, and so on — into mini games. A lot of them are virtual versions of everyday actions like pouring a bottle of wine, but patients can rack up points to create smaller achievable goals on the way to the ultimate goal of regaining full movement in the hand.
The glove connects to the software using a Bluetooth connection. After the first session, the program will set an initial half hour session, with further feedback setting the difficulty of the program over time.
The next step could be virtual reality. Neofect is studying how virtual reality can be used in rehab, and things are looking promising. Instead of seeing an avatar pour a wine bottle on screen, a VR simulation could make the patient feel like they’re doing the action in a real setting — the hope is that that could turn out to be a more effective or faster method.
For now, the combination of the Rapael glove and the rehab software costs $99 per month for patients to rent for home use. Neofect is also working with hospitals and rehab centers to put multiple units there, too.