Students Develop Digital Cerebral Palsy Treatment
A team of students at Rice University has developed a digital device that may help children with cerebral palsy develop movement in their wrists using simple gameplay techniques.
The “Dino-Might” was developed by Helping Hands, a group of seniors at Rice being mentored by Dr. Gloria Gogola, a pediatric hand and upper-extremity surgeon at Houston’s Shriners Hospitals for Children. The rehabilitation device was developed to help correct spastic wrist flexion deformity, a condition that limits the movements of the wrist that is often seen in cerebral palsy patients.
Following surgery that removes a tendon from underneath the wrist and attaches it to the top, the wrist is usually able to regain the ability to move. However, it is usually still not able to because the muscles have not been developed.
"These kids have a real problem with their hands," said Jenna Desmarais, a member of Helping Hands, according to Medical News Today. "The fingers and wrists are locked into a sort of claw-like position. Even after surgery to correct it, they need physical therapy to get stronger."
In order to strengthen the wrist, the Dino-Might system is attached to the arm and hand of the patient. Wires attached to the device monitor slight movements that are made by the wrist as the patient plays a computer game in which he or she has to move an animated dinosaur up or down through a path.
"It's a game, essentially, but one that's connected to eight strength gauges," said Jessica Joyce, another member of Helping Hands. "By playing the game, the child is telling us how strong she is and how well she can use her wrist and hand. With the game as an incentive, we're learning the patient's strong points, keeping a record of them and making them stronger at the same time."
The device has already been used on three patients in Dr. Gogola’s clinic, and there are hopes that it may one day be expanded to also help adults whose movements have been limited by cerebral palsy as well.
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