Stroke Rehab

Therapeutic video-gaming device lends helping hand to stroke survivors

One of the hardest endeavors following a stroke is physical rehabilitation. Many survivors are left with lingering speech loss or paralysis that affects daily function.

Now, Cleveland Clinic is studying whether a video-gaming device called Hand Mentor™ can help stroke survivors regain movement by supplementing their physical therapy.

“Regaining arm and wrist flexibility is very difficult,” says Jay Alberts, PhD, a biomedical engineer at Cleveland Clinic’s Lerner Research Institute and holder of the Edward F. and Barbara A. Bell Family Endowed Chair. “Recent studies show it takes 36,000 movement repetitions to see improvement.”

There isn’t enough time during in-clinic appointments to reach that threshold, he says. So, last November, Alberts launched a blind study to determine whether Hand Mentor™, a video-gaming device from Kinetic Muscles Inc., could augment rehabilitation for patients, especially those in rural or underserved areas.

The games, which increase in difficulty, include using a hand-fitted controller to align hot air balloons between two on-screen objects. It’s too early to report definitive success rates, Dr. Alberts says, but patients have said they enjoy working with Hand Mentor™ and feel more involved in their therapy.

Currently, 12 patients have enrolled in the study, agreeing to use Hand Mentor™ two hours a day, five days a week. Dr. Alberts and his team remotely monitor how frequently patients use it and record improvements.

“The big thing is we’re keeping patients engaged in their rehabilitation,” says Dr. Alberts, who has no financial ties to the device. “The more they like Hand Mentor™, the more they’ll do it and hopefully see more motor improvement.”

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