Neurogame Therapy to Improve Hand Function for Children and Adults with Brain Injury

Achievement date: 
2013
Outcome/accomplishment: 

A portable home-therapy system that allows patients with brain injury or disability to practice using weakened muscles in a fun and motivating game environment was developed by researchers at the Center for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering (CSNE), an NSF-funded Engineering Research Center (ERC) with headquarters at the University of Washington.

Impact/benefits: 

The development of a low-cost home-therapy system to improve hand function has the potential to benefit the millions of adults recovering from stroke and traumatic brain injury, as well as children with cerebral palsy or other developmental disability or acquired brain injury early in life. This system is expected to substantially reduce health-care costs while simultaneously improving rehabilitation outcomes by using teletherapy technology to provide focused and motivating muscle retraining.

Explanation/Background: 

Current healthcare reimbursement covers an average of just 12 therapy visits after stroke, leaving many individuals with incomplete recovery once discharged. Early results indicate that most children and adults using this low-cost home therapy system for only one month improved muscle and/or hand function. The preliminary evidence also indicates that virtual feedback of muscle activity, routed through a computer game interface, can improve hand function following stroke or traumatic brain injury, or for children with cerebral palsy.