It is the small things that make Jennifer Gabrysh smile.
Gabrysh, who became quadriplegic in a swimming accident in 2007, is a participant in Dr. Arthur Prochazka’s revolutionary ReJoyce (Rehabilitation Joystick for Computerized Exercise) study, a hand and arm rehabilitation system clinical trial.
The ReJoyce workstation consists of a table-top mount, a spring-loaded arm, and hand dexterity trainer called a manipulandum assembly. The arm suspends the assembly at a comfortable height for the hands, and gives a user the freedom to move the assembly through his or her entire range of motion. The assembly features two horizontal handles, a pressure gripper, a doorknob, a key, a peg, a jar top, and two coin simulators, allowing for simulation of almost any task of daily living — from pouring a glass of orange juice to using a pen. This hardware is integrated with a computer running game-based exercise and evaluation software. The patient can use the workstation alone or under supervision by a therapist, either in person or via a standard internet connection to allow long distance tele-rehabilitation.
|Jennifer Gabrysh using the Rejoyce workstation developed by Dr. Prochazka.
"Improving hand function is one of the most important things for me. With ReJoyce, I’ve regained strength and endurance in my wrist function. I am able to write with a pen and handle supplies at work and at home, I can better balance my fork. They may be small tasks but they are really important to me.”
Regaining even modest amounts of hand and grasping function can make a world of difference for many people with quadriplegia. Based at the University of Alberta’s Centre for Neuroscience and Department of Physiology, Dr. Prochazka has been working for over 15 years to develop new methods for people with paralysis to regain hand function. After intensive testing and subsequent validation, his innovative ReJoyce workstation is poised to become a fixture in rehabilitation centres around the world and perhaps people’s homes in the future.
“I’m thrilled about the possibility of having the ReJoyce system produced and marketed for in-home rehabilitation. I saw positive, practical results after my experience, and for me, access to this technology cannot happen fast enough,” says Gabrysh.