Upper limb rehabilitation after stroke is unquestionably poor. Clinicians and clients commonly put more focus on recovery of walking, leaving little rehab time for the upper limb. Evidence suggests that stroke survivors engage in only 4-10mins of upper limb therapy a day (Galea, 2012). Up to 50% of stroke survivors have a non-functional upper limb 6 months following stroke (Kwakkel et al., 2003).
Gaming technology is becoming more accessible and utilized in upper limb rehabilitation for stroke and other neurological conditions. It provides increased opportunity and amount of practice, while making therapy engaging, fun and empowering.
The ableX is a gaming system that involves a set of computer-based exercises or ‘games’. They are designed to promote repetitive, targeted, patient-directed movement of the arm, which are all essential components to drive neuroplastic changes in the brain. Without realizing, clients have been shown to perform up to 800 repetitions in a 1 hour session (Hijmans et al., 2011). The two control devices that can be used in the system are the ableX and ableM. Data about the client’s performance is recorded for each game and provided in reports to document progress.
Is the ableX or ableM for you?
- ableX is a hand controller used for people who are able to lift their arm off the table. It can be used as a unilateral or bilateral device. The latter requires the handlebar attachment, which allows the less affected arm to assist the affected arm as needed. You must have a reasonable grasp to be able to hold the controller, and ability to activate the trigger button for some games.
- ableM is a ‘tabletop arm skate’ that is used for people who can't lift the arm. For some games you must be able to activate a separate ‘clicker’ with the finger of the affected hand, the other hand or by someone else with you.
Advance Rehab Centre is lucky enough to have an ableX system with both devices in the clinic. It has been used with several clients, including in the first 2 rounds of the 'Hands Up' upper limb bootcamp. The staff and clients involved have found both devices to be of great benefit. The ableM particularly is an excellent therapy tool for people who have minimal movement in the arm. Even the slightest of movements can be detected and capitalized on through the sensitivity of the sensors. Both the set up of the device and the games are simple and easy to understand.
Do you or someone you know have a neurological condition affecting the function of your arm? And if so, have you tried using gaming devices like the ableX system for upper limb therapy? Why not come in and have a go? Chances are you’ll be hooked on the games and be doing hundreds of arm repetitions without even realizing! To make an appointment with one of our Senior Neurological Physiotherapists or Occupational Therapists, call Advance Rehab Centre today on 9906 7777.
For more information on this product, visit http://www.im-able.com.
Kwakkel, G., Kollen, B., Van der Grond, J., Prevo, A. (2003). Probability of Regaining Dexterity in the Flaccid Upper Limb: Impact of Paresis and Time Since Onset in Acute Stroke. Stroke 38, 2181-2186.
Galea, MP. (2012). Clinical Neurology and Neurosurgery 114(5), 438-488.
Hijmans, J., Hale, L., Satherley, J., McMillan, N., King, M. (2011). Bilateral Upper Limb Rehabilitation After Stroke Using Movement Based Game Controller. Journal of Rehabilitation Research and Development 48(8), 1005-1014.
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