Background Patients with Rheumatoid arthritis suffer from pain, stiffness and reduced mobility of their finger joints. Instrumented electronic goniometric gloves have been developed which can enable dynamic measurements to be made with accuracy and efficiency . This technology could be employed in assessing patients with rheumatoid arthritis and could also be used as an aid to rehabilitation. However, pain and swelling in the joints might limit the applicability of these measurement devices as to date they have not been tested in this patient group.
Objectives The purpose of this pilot study was to establish the usability of two different electronic gloves in patients with mild to moderate Rheumatoid arthritis. We wished to establish if patients experienced difficulty donning or doffing either glove or if carrying out a series of measurements with the gloves on caused a change in pain and stiffness. We also investigated differences in the usability and preference between the two Datagloves.
Methods We compared a commercially available electronic glove (the 5DT dataglove 14 Ultra) with a bespoke IMU based electronic glove produced to our specifications by Tyndall National Institute, University College Cork (Figure). We developed a programming interface for both devices to facilitate calibration and detailed evaluation of joint movement. Nine patients with mild to moderate rheumatoid arthritis who were experiencing significant but not severe pain and early morning stiffness in their hands were recruited. After calibration, the patients worked through a protocol of finger flexion and extension movements, which were repeated for each glove and again to test repeatability. The patients completed questionnaires before and after using the gloves on their pain and stiffness levels and at the end of the session on glove donning and doffing usability and preference between the two gloves.
Results All nine patients were able to don and doff the IMU glove without any difficulty compared to 4/9 for the 5DT glove. Seven of 9 patients expressed a preference for the IMU glove. In 2/9 patients, joint stiffness increased after using the gloves and 4/9 patients reported an increase in pain. Seven out of nine patients were not able to complete the fourth set of movement tests because of discomfort.
Conclusions Electrogoniometric gloves are usable in patients with rheumatoid arthritis, but patients cannot tolerate longer protocols without an increase in discomfort.
Dipietro L, et al. (2003). Evaluation of an instrumented glove for hand-movement acquisition. Journal of Rehabilitation Research and Development, 40(2), 179–89.
Disclosure of Interest None declared