The SenseGlove is a glove full of pressure points that patients can use to perform hand rehabilitation exercises. This happens in a Virtual Reality (VR) environment, so that patients can work on their rehabilitation without the permanent supervision of a therapist. Also at home, or when they are bound to bed. And without ending up in dangerous situations.
A test project with the SenseGlove has recently been completed. Dr Bram Onneweer is a researcher at Erasmus MC and TU Delft and coordinator at Living Lab Rijndam Revalidatie. In that capacity, he participates in the Medical Delta Living Lab Rehabilitation Technology and he is coordinator of the rehabilitation track of the scientific program Medical Delta: Improving Mobility with Technology. He talks about the results of this test project and the prospects for future applications.
Pouring a cup of tea or removing a pan from the stove: they are in themselves simple and harmless actions. But for people who recover from hand trauma or for people who suffered brain damage due to, for example, a brain hemorrhage, it requires a lot of practice. By doing this in a VR environment, they can start their rehabilitation at an earlier stage.
Recently the Delft-based VR developer CleVR, together with SenseGlove and Rijndam Revalidatie, created a suitable virtual environment for this type of rehabilitation. Here patients perform tasks with which they practice the movements that are important for their rehabilitation. Therapists and patients were involved in the development.
"We developed the new Virtual Reality environment by testing step-by-step with practitioners and patients and always using their feedback" says Onneweer. “We asked the practitioners which exercises they think are important. We asked patients which actions they think are fun and challenging to do. With this input we created an environment where patients can perform various tasks. In the end we opted for a kitchen, because different types of actions can be practiced there in a very practical way - from picking up pans to tapping an egg.”
The tests in this VR environment have now been completed. Satisfactory: the virtual kitchen and the practical design of the exercises appealed to patients and the actions fit in well with existing therapeutic exercises.
A major advantage of this application is that patients can start their recovery at an earlier stage, without being at risk or - in this case - dropping pans. The use of VR can be a solution for many therapies. People who are bound to bed can still practice - just like people with neglect or people with reduced mobility. The exercises can also be performed independently and patients can practice more often. It also enables therapists to have several patients do exercises simultaneously. “You can divide your attention between several patients at the same time. And that is necessary, because people are getting older and there are more eldery people than before, so we expect more patients to come,” says Onneweer. What appeals to him in particular is that all actions are measured continuously. “Normally you test someone, you start a rehabilitation process and you test them again afterwards to see what the progress is. A major advantage of this therapy is that measurement is continuous. As a therapist you can adjust during the process, for example by repeating specific exercises or by taking on new exercises.”
The next step in the further development with CleVR and SenseGlove is to set up an actual therapy. That also happens in co-creation. "We are in contact with therapists about this," says Onneweer. “We let them feel and experience what VR is and what you can do with it. We ask them to think along based on their knowledge and practical experience. Ultimately, they have to embrace it, so their input is very welcome for several reasons. We then make a therapy and test it together with patients and practitioners.”
Although it will take a while, the intention is to implement SenseGlove within the Rijndam rehabilitation center. This means that VR is actually used in the rehabilitation processes of patients. “Ultimately, we can also make remote treatments possible with this. At people's homes."
SenseGlove was established as a spin-off from researchers at TU Delft. With the support of Medical Delta, the further development of SenseGlove accelerated in the early stages. SenseGlove is one of the companies that will go to CES Las Vegas with Prince Constantijn van Oranje in January - the world's largest technology fair. CleVR B.V, founded in 2010, arose from the earlier (research) collaboration between TU Delft and the UvA. CleVR is located in YES! Delft.