Videogames to help rehabilitate stroke patients
Videogames to help rehabilitate stroke patients

A game controller helping stroke patients get back hand and arm movement by playing on the computer is set to start tests in a stroke unit.

The NeuroBall is shown to help people regain strength and movement in their arms and hands after a stroke by making dull daily rehab exercises more fun.

1.5 million Brits have a stroke and 70% of them get weakness in their hands and arms, leaving many unable to even make a cup of tea or get dressed. 

Developers at Brunel University London and UK firm Neurofenix have won £60,000 from The Stoke Association and MedCity to take development to the next level.

Dr Richard Francis, head of research awards at the Stroke Association, said: “Neurofenix and Brunel University London will explore how this new hand-held console and app could improve the recovery of hand and arm movement at vital, earlier stages of recovery.

“They will also look at whether the new technology can be cost-effective for the NHS.” 

Stroke survivors can play nine themed video games holding the Neuroball console, which uses AI to track arm and hand movements and send feedback to an app. Developed by the team at Brunel along with Neurofenix and stroke survivors, it’s designed to motivate users to do hundreds of physio reps from home without even realising it.

"Our vision is to enable stroke survivors and patients suffering neurological conditions to regain their independence. Brunel University London helped us validate how our technology can aid stroke survivors,” said Neurofenix’s Dimitris Athanasiou.

Hospital stroke rehab patients move their arm and hand an average 32 times in a session. But survivors who played videogames with the Neuroball practiced an average 17 hours a week, notching up 15,000 reps over seven weeks, an earlier study showed.

Starting in January, the new study will track stroke patients who are in an earlier stage of recovery, first at Hillingdon stroke unit and then their first weeks at home. 

Related: Medable tops off a strong year with US 91M funding round