Music’s contributions to healthcare goes beyond the calming and uplifting effects it can have on patients. The vibrations of music have been used to power medical implants and other devices. Now researchers at Georgia Institute of Technology have created a glove that uses music to improve sensation of patients with spinal cord injury, according to a university press release.
The glove, Mobile Music Touch, is similar to a workout glove in appearance, but has a small box that causes a person’s finger to vibrate. The device is used to teach patients play piano while improving the sensation in their fingers. A song is first programmed into a device that is linked to the glove. When the user plays the correct keys on the piano keyboard, the device causes the fingers to vibrate. The participants of the study also wore the glove at home for two hours a day, five days a week, without playing the piano.
The patients in the study were injured over a year before they participated in the research. At this point, rehab patients typically don’t see much improvement. The participants of the study demonstrated significant improvements in grasping and sensation after participating in the project for eight weeks, according to the press release.
While it is not yet clear how the device helps improve motor abilities, Project Leader Tanya Markow, a PhD graduate, believes it may renew brain activity that has become dormant. To investigate this theory, Markow would like to take the research to the next step by using fMRI to study the brain activity of patients wearing the device.Camilla Andersson