As we age, we can use different methods to counter the deterioration of our hearing and sight. However, few tools were able to combat the degenerating of touch. The electric glove, made by researchers from Germany’s Ruhr University Bochum (RUB), aims to do just that by using electrical stimulation.
Motor skills and the sense of touch can deteriorate as a person ages. Moreover, in case of severe strokes, they can get greatly reduced. Usually, active training is necessary to improve the senses in the damaged hand. However, with a new invention, the researchers from RUB hope to be able to replace months of training with a glove.
The researchers tried to find out how to better stimulate certain nerve cells in order to improve communication between neurons. The method they used was an electrical nerve stimulation that allowed them to observe that a high-frequency improved communication between stimulated cells. On the other hand, a low-frequency decreased the communication. Using their results, they concluded that by stimulation certain nerve cells they can improve the sense of touch.
Tests were made on patients who had suffered from strokes. Sometimes, these tests lasted almost two years. However, by their end, almost all patients showed positive results. In addition, when testing people aged 65 to 89, their sense of touch and motor skills were shown to have increased.
The research culminated in the design of a special patented glove that administers the stimulation treatment passively. This glove was finished in September 2013. The glove has electrical contacts located in the fingertips that send electric pulses. These pulses stimulate the nerves that communicate with the brain.
Unfortunately, the treatment is not yet ready to be used. The researchers have stated that more studies are necessary to see its effects. However, the potential is there. Do you think we will see this stimulation treatment in hospitals, in the near future?