Getting a grip on making rehab fun
Keeping up with a physical rehabilitation regime when alone, no matter how willing you are, can feel like a grind, but tech holds the key to making rehab fun, explains GripAble‘s CEO and co-founder, Dr Paul Rinne.
The rehab challenge
Physical rehabilitation is critical for patients to restore quality of life after stroke and many other neurological, orthopaedic and paediatric conditions. Studies show that the more repetition and strength training a person performs, the greater their chance of restoring movement, and ultimately their independence. But sticking to the rehab routine is a grind. It can seem as though all of that sweat and the understandable tears that accompany it, can leave you thinking that it’s all for nothing and that the future is bleak. Coupled with the challenges of COVID-19 and lockdown, which have resulted in many patients being isolated at home, unable to attend therapy appointments, rehab can seem a daunting prospect for those with upper limb movement impairment.
It can also present challenges to therapists. Many have struggled for years to find the appropriate tools that can engage their patients in rehab and track the outcomes of this remotely.
Making rehab fun
GripAble is a smart mobile assessment and training device that connects to an app, to help people with upper limb impairment work on their arm movement and grip strength. At the heart of its design is turning the rehab grind into fun by training core hand movements in an engaging way to help people along the journey of restored ability.
Unique in the way it provides people of all ages, and their therapists, the ability and transparency to track and assess activity, GripAble is handheld and connects to a mobile app to play games to train core hand and arm movements. The results are measurable and trackable both for home-based users – and as a handy assessment tool for healthcare professionals.
The highly sensitive device has been tested and developed over the last seven years in partnership with thousands of occupational therapists and physiotherapists and patients across multiple clinical conditions and leading academic institutions including Imperial College London and within Imperial Healthcare NHS Trust.
The winning formula
Winning is a habit and so being able to track progress is just about the best motivation you can get to continue working towards further achievement. One user, Peter, needed daily exercise to rehabilitate compressed nerves that were affecting his ability to grip. After several months of exercise, mostly squeezing putty, which he says was tedious and demotivating, he was introduced to GripAble. His occupational therapist was able to suggest a daily programme to match his ability and he could work completely independently. Peter logs in daily, does his prescribed grip and pinch activities using a variety of games – and tracks objective data to gauge progress. He told us that: “GripAble is an amazing, dead neat bit of kit. I love that it tracks my grip strength, and I can see my progress.”
GripAble was also introduced to 12-year-old, would-be drumming legend, Max. His dad explains that: “GripAble is a game-changer! Max is so motivated by seeing his rehabilitation as a game, not therapy. Over the last 11 years (since Max’s stroke) we have tried lots of therapists and different kinds of therapies, but the sessions were really stressful and difficult as the work was hard and our son was not motivated. He didn’t grasp the importance of therapy since his brain injury also left him with learning difficulties which made it more difficult to encourage him to engage in the sessions.”
After just a couple of weeks training on GripAble, Max’s dad said he was able to grip the sticks for short periods at a time and continues to make progress, something he fully attributes to his engagement with the system – and proof that GripAble rocks!
Remote rehab at the heart
Alongside making rehab fun, GripAble has been developed with remote rehab at its heart, and can be delivered to within 24 hours, with full set-up and support delivered remotely. For home-based rehab, it offers the added advantage of allowing people to train and track hand movements and grip strength from the comfort of their own home, so they can still achieve their rehab goals despite lockdown, and therapists can still support and help people who are shielding or self-isolating.