Adopting robotic assistance in neurorehabilitation

Adopting robotic assistance in neurorehabilitation

NewsMedical spoke with Waduda Parolari Musaid at MEDICA 2022 about Gloreha’s robotic-assisted neurorehabilitation solutions. The robotic device and associated on-screen software suite aims to make hand movement recovery faster and easier for patients.

Could you introduce yourself and tell us about your journey with Gloreha?

My name is Waduda Parolari Musaid and I am a Product Specialist for Gloreha. I have worked at Gloreha for almost four years. Currently, I am in charge of various market areas including product application, development, testing and evaluation, as well as being involved in follow-up patient studies.

Essentially, my job is to know how to use the device, how to best apply it to patients, and how to gather data on clinical issues and patient needs. This allows us to see how to improve the software and hardware of the device.

Gloreha offers a robotic-assisted rehabilitation device to regain motor function of the hand after a stroke or other neurological injuries. Could you describe how this technology works?

The device is what its name suggests – a rehab robotic hand. It is a device focused on hand rehabilitation and has been on the market for 10 years. The project started in 2005 with studies on the application potential of such a device. Gloreha’s intention was to fill the gap in the market that lacked such a product.

Most of the devices we see in rehabilitation technology today, especially in robotics, focus on the lower limb.

Image Credit: Gloreha

With an aging population, rehabilitation needs are increasing year by year, and on top of that, neurological diseases are on the rise. There is an absolute necessity for technology, because therapists alone are not enough. The use of technology and robotic therapies is something that is effective and proven by research.

Why is it important to adopt robotics in rehabilitation therapy?

First, there is a need to change mindsets when it comes to investing and understanding the real applications and uses of these technologies. The devices will increase the number of repetitions, the intensity of treatment, and improve the type of real-time feedback that a human cannot always provide so extensively or consistently.

So on the one hand we have the robotic glove that works with the hand, ensuring the repetition of movements and improving functionality. Then the system also provides visual feedback to the patient so they can really perceive the movement and understand what they are doing to regain damaged function.

Image Credit: Gloreha

Combining the two aspects of treatment is challenging, but it’s also the best thing for patients, and that’s what Gloreha does.

There’s a 3D camera that works in partnership with the robotic hand device – what range of motion can it detect?

The active part of our set, the Gloreha Aria, is an optical sensor that detects hand, wrist, elbow and shoulder movements. Essentially, the camera reads the position of the joint in space and where and how it moves based on the item on screen. This is one of the main features of our device.

There is a game package available with the system that encourages screen rehabilitation. Do you design all games and software?

Yes, we develop games for specific needs. Games can be adapted to provide features such as focusing on the use of the wrist and its movement, i.e. using only the movement of the wrist. Other games are based on neuropsychological testing, so we can push that to the cognitive side as well. For example, there is a game inspired by a Stroop test that is typically neuropsychological, so we can focus on that aspect of cognitive recovery as well.

Image Credit: Gloreha

Can the system support neurocognitive recovery for all ages?

The system is suitable for all ages. We can start the treatment on children from four or five years old up to elderly patients. The games are meant to be appealing to children and adults, they are not just games for kids. The glove was also developed to handle small hands, as we have a smaller size available.

Could you explain the importance and the role of the weightless armrest in the system?

It is a mechanical arm that can be used depending on the condition of the patient’s arm. Generally, it is used to provide comfort and weight compensation for the patient during therapy. Typically, therapies with Gloreha last 25-45 minutes. For the patient, keeping the hand or arm in this position can be difficult. We use the weightless arm support to allow functional movement. For example, if you want to practice the hand-to-mouth movement, it is very useful to keep your elbow and arm straight. The arm accompanies this movement so therapists can teach and guide with this support.

The medical sector has seen significant advances in recent years in response to technological innovation. How do you envision technology and robotics like yours continuing to change the field of medicine and rehabilitation over the next decade?

In the next 10 years, I imagine we could improve technology and games significantly. We are always adapting it to new pathologies which could take on greater importance.

Image Credit: Gloreha

Our main objective is to make this tool adaptable to the needs of therapists. For example, this technology could allow a therapist to treat two or three patients at a time. I think it will evolve in this direction to give a more complete tool because today the device must be used almost all the time with a therapist. Creating a complete workstation on which to place the patient and give him more autonomy is one of the areas of progress of this technology.

Another direction could be that the technology can be used remotely, for example at home, which means it would work well with telerehabilitation. Bringing the package home, where you start at a workstation in the hospital and then follow up at home with your therapist monitoring and following the sessions remotely would be important.

How accessible is this technology? Is it currently available in hospitals and rehabilitation centers?

Essentially, hospitals buy it from our global distributors or from us. Currently we have around 250 machines installed worldwide in countries like France, Germany and Italy. In cases where a private patient wishes to use it, he will have to contact the hospital as it is currently a professional device not to be used at home.

Why do you think it is important for researchers, companies and organizations to come together at conferences like MEDICA?

MEDICA is for us a place of meeting and exchange with our partners from all over the world. If you are a serious health business, you must be at MEDICA because it is like displaying that you are a good healthy business. Every year you can find us at the same place. It is very important to show people that we are there. Moreover, it is a unique opportunity where potential customers can try this device, because it is not every day that you can go to a store and test it.

Image Credit: Gloreha

What’s next for Gloreha?

We want to improve our presence and visibility because many hospitals and clinicians don’t know that Gloreha exists. We want to help advance and energize knowledge around this type of technology. In addition to this, we are also working on developing new exercises and therapies, and researching new strategies that help meet client and clinic needs. We really want to develop something useful in the real world, because in universities and in laboratories there are millions and dozens of prototypes, but they don’t really correspond to real clinics.

Neurorehabilitation and robotics in neurorehabilitation are the future. The more doctors understand it and the more people get to know about it, the more it could help improve patient rehabilitation.

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About Waduda Parolari Musaid

I am Waduda Parolari Musaid, a product specialist for Gloreha with four years of experience. My main responsibilities are: attending conferences/trade shows/courses for promotional activities, participating in product development, and collecting, processing and assisting customer feedback.

By focusing on demonstration meetings and training sessions with customers as well as product testing activities, I was able to put the Master in Rehabilitation Technologies and the six languages ​​I know to good use. Over the years, I have been able to identify and develop new market opportunities, operating in different parts of the world, to cultivate valuable relationships with clinical and commercial partners. The added value of my job is the opportunity to treat patients as well as participate in clinical trials, but what I love the most is listening to patients’ stories and seeing the excitement and surprise in their eyes when they try our technologies.

When I’m not in the company or traveling for work, I enjoy spending time with my cats, reading a good book, and listening to jazz music.

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