With all that technology has accomplished and imagined, it’s no wonder that tech nerds and developers alike are joining forces to make the world a bit easier to go through for those who end up with the shorter stick. Technology has made phones smarter, money faster, and transportation as easy and leaning forward; one innovator, Ban Ho Young, founder of Neofect, has been working in conjunction with gaming designers and rehabilitation experts to create a product that could potentially change the daily lives of stroke victims.
A stroke happens when blood flow to a particular area of the brain is cut off and brain cells die due to the lack of oxygen. Some of the symptoms of a stroke include: numbness in the arms, legs, or face, especially on one side of the body, droopiness in the facial area including mouth or eyes (on one side as well), sudden confusion or difficulty speaking, vision problems in one or both eyes, and severe headache with no known cause. Each year about 800,000 people in the United States suffer a stroke, and rehabilitation for stroke victims or survivors varies with only about 10% of stroke victims recovering completely. Factor in another 10% needing long-term care, 25% recovering with only minor impairments, and another 40% requiring moderate or special assistance or care, and it becomes very easy to see why another form of rehabilitation may be necessary.
In South Korea, where Ban Ho Young hails, about 105,000 people suffer a stroke each year, which is small compared to the U.S.; what differs between the two is that Young has found a niche within this number of South Korean citizens who also like gaming. With advancements in gaming technology showing up almost every year it seems, it definitely makes sense that Young would reach out to some of the people behind this techno boom to help create a glove specifically designed to help stroke victims relearn essential motor skills, but in a way that’s a little more dignified and less overwhelming than traditional physical therapy.
In comes the Rapael Smart Glove, with a design reminiscent of the Nintendo Power Glove, but tailored to assist stroke patients in recovery through motion-based games. This allows the patient to not only improve their brain function (presumably through regaining their ability to use their motor skills), but regain the usage of their arms and hands as well. The patient can choose which games they’d like to play based on which area they’d like to rehab first, such as the hand. There’s even a game to help them face their palms downward and upward. There are sensors imbedded in the glove that monitor any motion from the extremities, and there’s an accompanying app (Rapael Smart Rehabilitation System) that can analyze data or keep track of the training progress.
So far, only about 20 units have been shipped out to some of the top medical facilities in South Korea. However, Young hopes that the Rapeal Smart Glove will be available to consumers some time next year. To rent the glove would be about $85.00 USD and considering how difficult healthcare can be, that’s a pretty big deal! It’s not yet available in the United States, but something tells me, we’re not too far off from receiving this life-changing technology sooner than we think. Check out the video below to see the Rapael in action!