The KINARM combines a chair with robotic arms and a virtual-reality system that allows researchers to guide patients through tasks, such as hitting balls with virtual paddles.
Once the tests are done, the system gives a detailed report on how the patient differed from normal.
The system has several advantages over traditional testing methods, such as touching one’s finger or nose, said Prof. Stephen Scott of the Centre for Neuroscience Studies at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont.
Currently, clinicians often assess patients with brain injuries and disease using crude, subjective scoring systems that range from zero to two, based on whether the patient can touch a nose or another object.
But those systems offer few choices, which makes to difficult to identify problems and show improvements after therapy, Scott said.