Using rhythm for rehabilitation: evaluation of a novel haptic device

Tetley, J.; Stockley, R.; Donaldson, G.; Caton, S.; Sullivan, M.; Holland, S.; Georgiou, T.; Visi, F.; Williamson, A.; Wong, J. and Hill, R. (2017). Using rhythm for rehabilitation: evaluation of a novel haptic device. Manchester Metropolitan University & The Open University.



This project explored how new and novel approaches to stroke rehabilitation could improve physical function and the confidence of stroke survivors to remain active and engaged in the community. The innovation trialed was a ‘Haptic bracelet/cueing device’, developed at The Open University. An overview of the Haptic device, its development and role in stroke rehabilitation can be viewed at: The Haptic bracelets provide a physical (embodied) beat that someone can walk to as an alternative to existing audio cuing ways of working. The haptic device provides a non-invasive, relatively cheap way of facilitating people after stroke to continue to maintain or even improve their mobility after intensive rehabilitation has finished. This research explored the impact of the haptic device to gains in mobility. The project had two key aims: 1. To develop a usable and practical prototype of a haptic device to restore gait symmetry after stroke. 2. To investigate the feasibility and acceptability of the prototype in stroke patients. Summary of findings and recommendations When introduced to the Haptic Bracelets participants hoped the product would provide them with: • More confidence and make them feel safer when walking. • Greater ability to take bigger strides rather than little steps. • A way to combat the silly mistakes participants reported making due to tiredness. • Reduced pain (knees, hips) The physiotherapists saw potential for the Haptic devices as part of post stroke rehabilitation, but expressed concern about their lack of access to mobile technologies when out in community practice settings. There were also concerns about use with some stroke survivors because of issues of cognition; and the sensation from the Haptic beat. In the Haptic gait testing • All the participants demonstrated good mobility performance prior to the study (high score on the Rivermead mobility scale) • 4/7* (57.1%) participants who were the most asymmetrical at baseline improved their gait symmetry whilst wearing the haptic device • 3/7* (42%) participant’s gait symmetry continued to improve in the post off condition. • All the participants walked quicker in post-op condition. However, gait speed varied between participants when they were wearing the haptic bracelets. • Participants were had had their strokes between 3-10 years ago, but there was still an indication that the Haptic bracelets were having some impact on mobility. • Syncing of the Haptic device and more mobile Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) to the fixed gait laboratory (gold standard) system has improved the potential for more community based rehabilitation and commercialisation of the Haptic bracelets. • Post Haptic interviews identified that there were mixed participant feelings about the bracelets. However, some did express positive experiences from testing the Haptic bracelets, including a carry over effect after the devices were removed. Recommendations As this was a pilot study more work is now required to explore the: • use of the Haptic bracelets in community rehabilitation settings • feasibility of the using Haptic bracelets in community settings, particularly looking at staff access to new technologies • potential for the Haptic bracelets to be used in the home as part of ongoing rehabilitation • benefits of Haptic bracelets in the context of longer term stroke rehabilitation • future design needs to improve the look, size and ease of application • cost benefits of using Haptic bracelets as part of an overall program of stroke rehabilitation.

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