After waxing fondly over the potential of active video games for physical therapy, a group of students at Rice University (known collectively as Helping Hands) have developed their own controller/game designed specifically to perform physical rehabilitation. This device, known as the Dino-Might, is used for people with cerebral palsy and have undergone surgery for spastic wrist flexion deformity. Due to the rather difficult recovery, the student research team designed a controller that could aid in strength training, gauge the strength/motion of different parts of the hand, and (just to be awesome) allow those movements to control an on screen dinosaur avatar.

The Helping Hands team was tasked by their mentor Dr. Gloria Gogola, a pediatric hand and upper extremity surgeon at Shriners Hospitals for Children in Houston, to design the device due to the lacking equipment currently available. “There have been similar devices in use, but Dr. Gogola hasn’t been satisfied with them,” remarked the senior bioengineering major Jessica Joyce. “Something, some feature she wants to use, is always missing. What’s novel here is the completeness, all in one package – the force sensors, the arm restraint, the stand, the hand restraint, the GUI.”

One of the most beneficial aspects of the device is its adaptability. Not only can it be fitted to each child for an individualized strength analysis, there are also plans in the future to use it on older patients suffering from spinal injuries or strokes.

To date three children have been used for preliminary testing. Gogola, pleased with the results, plans to use it on her patients this summer to build a larger test bed of data.

Here’s the video published by Rice University.