Physical rehabilitation is a time-consuming, energy-draining, oft-demotivating endeavor. But a company called Neofect hopes to change that with it’s line of Rapael rehabilitation products, which use a biofeedback gaming system to empower patients through their therapy.
Neofect’s flagship product is the Rapael Smart Glove, a Bluetooth glove that’s packed with sensors to measure finger and wrist movements. During rehabilitation sessions, patients are prompted to make simple movements, such as extending their fingers or rotating their wrist, in order to accomplish basic tasks within the game like navigating a submarine or flipping a fried egg. The movements are based on commonly used clinical therapies and a learning schedule algorithm helps adjust difficulty to optimize challenge and motivation.
“The gamification elements and user-friendly interface motivates the patient throughout the rehab process,” Hoyoung Ban, Neofect’s CEO, tells Digital Trends. “It helps to induce neuroplasticity for hand function of patient with brain damage while patients are playing games, seeing and hearing the sounds of the game.”
The Rapael method was shown to be more effective than conventional rehabilitation therapy in a study published in the journal NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation. The Smart Glove also earned Neofect a CES 2017 Innovation Awards Honoree nod. It is available to rent at home for $99 per month or to purchase for a hospital or clinic for about $15,000.
Although the Smart Glove is the company’s flagship, the Neofect team has begun to develop other products for patients with different conditions. The Rapael Smart Kids and Rapael Smart Board, both of which are expected to launch in April 2017, are specifically designed for children with nervous system disorders and patients in need of upper-limb training respectively.
The company has also partnered with researchers from Seoul National University who developed the Exo-Glove Poly, a wearable polymer robotic glove designed specifically for rehabilitation of C5 and C7 spinal coordinate injury patients. Equipped with an actuator unit, wires, and a button for control, the glove helps patients grip objects that would otherwise be too heavy for them to hold.
Correction: Neofect previously misquoted the price of a Rapael Smart Glove as $1,500 for a hospital or clinic. The correct price is $15,000.