This Updated Pegboard Game Helps Stroke Victims Relearn Motor Skills

The Rapael smart pegboard from Neofect looks like an item you might find in an arcade. Power it up and it acts like one too: The digital device is outfitted with holes that light up in a variety of shapes and patterns. One setting functions like a stripped-down version of Whack-a-Mole, where the object is to fill the illuminated spaces with pegs before time runs out. Though the designers took inspiration from classic children's games, their pegboard is meant to provide life-changing therapy instead of simple entertainment.

As Mashable reports, the pegboard was built as a rehabilitation tool for stroke survivors. The inventors at the South Korean medical startup Neofect modeled the product after the old-school pegboards that are already used in many physical therapists' offices. The purpose of those original boards is to improve motor function in people recovering from neurological damage (like the kind sustained after a stroke) by having them complete dexterity tests. The smart pegboard takes this one step further by offering a gamified aspect.

By making physical therapy tools fun to use, the idea is that patients will be more engaged and more motivated in each exercise. In addition to the Whack-a-Mole activity, the pegboard is also compatible with games in the styles of Simon Says and Lite-Brite. A digital panel on the side of the board provides users with visual and auditory feedback so they can keep track of their progress.

About 795,000 people in the U.S. fall victim to strokes each year, and it can take survivors months to years to recover. Games have been proven to be beneficial to the rehabilitation process, but patients and doctors interested in purchasing Neofect's smart pegboard will need to pay a high price: The full version costs $2000 (the pegboard without the digital hardware is much cheaper at $50 for a small one). The device still needs to undergo clinical trials before it will be ready to hit the market.

[h/t Mashable]

A Custom Wheelchair Allowed This Brain-Injured Baby Raccoon to Walk Again

фотограф/iStock via Getty Images
фотограф/iStock via Getty Images

Animal prosthetics and wheelchairs allow dogs, cats, and even zoo animals with limited mobility to walk again, but wild animals with disabilities aren't usually as lucky. Vittles, a baby raccoon rescued in Arkansas, is the rare example of an animal that was severely injured in its natural habitat getting a second shot at life.

As Tribune Media Wire reports, Vittles came to wildlife rehab specialist Susan Curtis, who works closely with raccoons for the state of Arkansas, with a traumatic brain injury at just 8 weeks old. The cause of the trauma wasn't clear, but it was obvious that the raccoon wouldn't be able to survive on her own if returned to the wild.

Curtis partnered with the pet mobility gear company Walkin' Pets to get Vittles back on her feet. They built her a tiny custom wheelchair to give her balance and support as she learned to get around on her own. The video below shows Vittles using her legs and navigating spaces with help from the chair and guidance from her caretaker.

Vittles will likely never recover fully, but now that she's able to exercise her leg muscles, her chance at one day moving around independently is greater than it would have been otherwise. She now lives with her caretaker Susan and a 10-year old raccoon with cerebral palsy named Beetlejuice. After she's rehabilitated, the plan is to one day make her part of Arkansas's educational wildlife program.

[h/t Tribune Media Wire]

Why You Should Never Shower With Your Contact Lenses In

belchonock/iStock via Getty Images
belchonock/iStock via Getty Images

Contact lenses offer a level of convenience for those with less-than-perfect vision that glasses can hardly compete with, but that doesn’t mean the daily struggle of taking them in and out of your eyes doesn’t wear on you. If you get a little lazy and decide it’s fine to leave them in your eyes during showers or pool parties, think again.

According to Popular Science, a 41-year-old woman in the UK lost sight in her left eye as a result of frequently showering and swimming without removing her contacts. The culprit was Acanthamoeba polyphaga, a protozoa that crawled into her eye and caused a cornea infection called Acanthamoeba keratitis. After two months of pain, blurry vision, and light sensitivity, the woman sought medical attention at the Manchester Royal Eye Hospital, where doctors discovered a ring shape in her left eye and a hazy layer covering her cornea. Upon testing her vision, they found that her left eye was now 20/200, which counts as legally blind in the United States.

Leela Raju, an ophthalmologist and cornea specialist at New York University, told Popular Science that the single-celled organisms “can be anywhere,” including pools, hot tubs, showers, dirty saline solution containers, and even tap water. Lens-wearers make up around 85 percent of those who get infected, and experts think it may be because the amoeba can latch onto a contact lens more easily than a bare eye.

Though Popular Science reports that Acanthamoeba keratitis only affects one or two people out of every million contact wearers each year, that’s no reason not to be careful. If you do catch it, you’ll likely need a cornea transplant, and even that won’t necessarily restore your eyesight to its previous state—after her transplant, the UK woman’s left eye now has 20/80 vision.

“It’s just a long road, for something that’s totally preventable,” Raju says. In addition to removing your contacts before swimming, showering, or sleeping, you should also refrain from reusing saline solution, make sure your contact case is completely clean and dry before filling it with more solution, and check out these other tips.

[h/t Popular Science]

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