The sad truth is that one-in-six strokes are fatal, and even if someone survives a stroke, they’re often left with serious disabilities. The most common, or at least obvious, effects from a stroke are a difficulty walking or speaking. But stroke survivors often lose sensation and muscle control in one arm and hand as well. That can have a serious impact on how well stroke survivors can accomplish everyday tasks, and is a detriment to their quality of life. However, a novel new vibrating glove may help them regain some muscle control.
This wearable device was developed by a team of doctors and engineers from Stanford University’s Wu Tsai Neurosciences Institute and the Georgia Institute of Technology. Their goal is to use modern, practical technology to help rehabilitate stroke survivors, and have created SCAN (Stroke Collaborative Action Network) to achieve that goal. Stroke survivors can benefit from rehabilitation in a number of muscle groups, but the team is starting with motor function in the hand, and this glove is the first prototype designed to help in that area.
The glove is designed to be worn for hours at a time while the wearer goes about their daily routine. As they do, the glove constantly vibrates. The idea is that those vibrations will help stimulate the nerves in the hand, which is the same thing traditional physical therapy tries to achieve. It isn’t known whether vibrations will actually accomplish that, and clinical trials will be needed to find out. But, if it is helpful in rehabilitation, this glove would be an affordable and convenient way for stroke survivors to improve their condition while they continue to live their lives.