Sydney Ricks
Sydney Ricks
Elementary School First Place Winner - 2013 Essential to Our Health Essay Contest
Suffolk, Virginia
Stroke Survivors Get A New Grip on Life

The robotic glove has helped improve the lives of many stroke victims by advancing rehabilitation. The robotic therapy helps restore motor skills after a stroke occurs. How does the robotic glove work? It starts when a person has a blood clot that blocks the blood from reaching the brain. Brain cells die when the brain does not get its oxygen and nutrients. According to Discover Fit and Health Journal, 12 million cells die during each minute of blood loss. Every minute the brain does not get oxygen; the brain loses its ability to control the body’s movements. This can leave stroke survivors unable to move fingers, arms, or legs. In many cases the stroke victim becomes handicap and dependent on others.

Stroke survivors are often responsible for completing their own therapy. They participate in fingering exercises at the doctor’s office that will help them regain the use of their motor skills. Doctor office visits can be very expensive and time consuming. So, doctors give stroke survivors instructions on how to practice at home. The problem that doctors identified is that stroke survivors are not motivated to complete their therapy at home.

Engineers went to work to solve the problem. Engineers asked how could they inspire stroke survivors to complete their therapy at home? Games promote a fun and exciting challenge. The popular game, Guitar Hero, motivated engineers to influence stroke survivors to complete their therapy using a robotic glove to simulate playing a guitar. What’s the motivation? Survivors master playing his or her own song.
The robotic glove is designed to restore the lost memories of the brain and help the stroke survivor recover from brain damage. The object of the game is to hit the right note on the glove. They have to have a good sense of rhythm, coordination, and fingering skills. Stroke survivors put on the robotic glove that has sensors attached by an electrical engineer. The sensors detect when a certain finger touches the thumb and how much pressure was used. Each finger that touches the thumb represents a note on the guitar. As stroke survivors touch fingers to thumb in repeated order, they not only master the song, but they complete the necessary fingering exercises needed to relearn and regain the damaged motor skills. 
Engineering the robotic glove for stroke survivors is a new way to help stroke survivors overcome physical disabilities and give them back their independence. Robotic rehabilitation is made possible by the work of engineers.Computer engineers develop the operating system necessary to play a game that mimics playing songs on a guitar. They must work closely with electrical engineers who program sensors in the robotic glove. Electrical engineers insert sensors in the glove to determine whether the finger positions are correct and whether the amount of pressure is used to make the right sound on the virtual guitar.
Although most adult disabilities are caused by stroke, survivors can use technology to get a new grip on life and reclaim their independence.
• What happens to stroke victims after an attack? Discovery Fit & Health
• C. Carroll 2012. After stroke: Regaining Muscle Control.
• C. Conger How Guitar Hero Works. How Stuff Works
• M. Schaff 2012. Engineers work on robotic arm for stroke victims. The Pitt News.
• E. Wrenn 2012. Stroke patients get helping hand from ‘telepathic’ robot arm which can respond to your thoughts. Science Home Journal