Skip to Content

Cheaper Robot Rehabilitation

A modified 3-D game controller helps improve fine motor control.

Researchers at George Mason University have turned a gaming device into a rehabilitation tool.

The device, dubbed My Scrivener, guides a patient’s hand as she tries to spell out letters or write equations, helping her improve fine motor control. It can record about 100 data points per second to let a doctor analyze the patient’s progress.

Sue Palsbo, founder of Obslap Research, modified Falcon, a 3-D force-feedback game controller made by Novint, a company based in Albuquerque, NM. A hinged arm (called a pantograph) attaches to the device and fastens on top of a regular pen or pencil, leaving room for a user to write with a comfortable grip. A physical therapist then uses My Scrivener software to decide on an exercise for the patient that lets her work toward creating clear, legible script (see video below).

Therapists regularly use this kind of repetitive training to improve motor control in patients, and the new prototype showed “dramatic” improvement for children with ADHD, according to the company, which says that it plans clinical trials this year. It adds that the device could even help diagnose mild physical or cognitive impairments.

Rehabilitation robots tend to be bulky and expensive, but the Falcon costs around $200 and sits on the corner of a desk or table. Another relatively cheap solution is the Wii, which is being used more and more in rehabilitation.

Keep Reading

Most Popular

This startup wants to copy you into an embryo for organ harvesting

With plans to create realistic synthetic embryos, grown in jars, Renewal Bio is on a journey to the horizon of science and ethics.

VR is as good as psychedelics at helping people reach transcendence

On key metrics, a VR experience elicited a response indistinguishable from subjects who took medium doses of LSD or magic mushrooms.

This nanoparticle could be the key to a universal covid vaccine

Ending the covid pandemic might well require a vaccine that protects against any new strains. Researchers may have found a strategy that will work.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.