Arm disability
New tool named gripAble is devised to aid people with arm impairments. [Representational image]Reuters

A tool has been devised by researchers called, gripAble, which would aid patients with arm disability and paralysis by acting as a virtual physiotherapist.

People suffering from arm disabilities and paralysis face many problems in performing the day-to-day activities. Taking care of these disabilities over a long-term becomes a costly affair for these patients.

This device is likely to be very beneficial for these patients as it is not expensive. It will help in recovering the condition of their limbs by making them exercise using therapies such as playing computer games.

This pocket-friendly tool comprises an electronic handgrip, which is light-weighted. It will be connected to a PC tablet wirelessly and allow the users to play arm-training-oriented games. The handgrip is used by the patients to control the tool while playing. They lift it, squeeze it or turn it and receive vibrations from it as a response to their actions.

"The use of mobile-gaming could provide a cost-effective and easily available means to improve the arm movements of stroke patients," stated Paul Bentley, the lead researcher and senior lecturer at Imperial College, London.

This device is very motion-sensitive and it identifies even the minutest movements that the patients will make. These movements will then be channelled by the tool to control the game, the researchers explained.

"The device improves arm and cognitive function of patients who have mild to severe arm weaknesses and can also be used unsupervised in hospitals and independently by patients at home," said Bentley.

More than half of the patients were able to use the arm training software in this study, whereas none of these patients were able to use the controls which have been traditionally used to operate smartphones, tabs and other gadgets, the researchers revealed.

The patients with paralysed hands were found to make 50 percent more movements by using this tool in contrast to using the standard methods.

The research showed that the gripAble aided 93 percent of the patients in making meaningful movements to direct the cursor.

"The potential of gripAble as a means of delivering cost-effective physiotherapy was also recognised by a NHS England Innovation Challenge Prize in early 2016," the study stated.