This Dance Dance Revolution-esque device helps stroke survivors with rehab

Neofect Smart Balance is a gamification of leg and balance exercises that aims to help people recover from a stroke.

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The Neofect Smart Balance aims to make leg rehabilitation fun and engaging.

Patrick Holland/CNET

Among the sea of CES booths here at the Mandalay Bay resort in Las Vegas is a man standing on a 30-inch square platform, dancing. It would be easy to think this was a simple game of Dance Dance Revolution, but it's actually a new device that helps people recovering from a stroke rehabilitate their legs, balance and posture. The board is called the Neofect Smart Balance and it's the latest product in the growing field of physical therapy gamification.

Every 40 seconds someone in the US has a stroke, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And every year nearly 500,000 people go through rehabilitation to minimize the damage caused by a stroke and improve their well-being. The rehab process can be monotonous and tedious, which is why the digital health company Neofect sought to create fun and engaging exercises to aid people in recovery.

With Neofect Smart Balance, you can choose different games to focus on rehab. In one game you move your feet to the beat of a song while timing a leg lift and step. In another game, you wear a strap around your chest that has a sensor. You lean and move to control an onscreen airplane with the sensor.

"Patients are physically and cognitively challenged and can also have fun while rehabilitating," said Scott Kim, co-founder and CEO of Neofect USA.

Neofect Smart Balance isn't something you buy. Rather it's designed for healthcare clinics and for temporary use at home. It tracks and analyzes your motions and then provides feedback when it senses an imbalance. During the rehabilitation process, games increase the speed of movement and challenge your coordination even more. As you make progress, the Neofect Smart Balance can securely share reports with your therapists, so they can adjust your recovery regimen as needed.

This isn't Neofect's first gamification rehab device. Over the past decade, the company released the Neofect Smart Glove and Neofect Smart Board aimed at helping hand and upper arm rehabilitation. In 2018 at CES, we saw the Neofect NeoMano, a robotic glove that helps people suffering from paralysis move their hands to grip and grab things like a toothbrush.


The NeoMano is a robotic glove that helps people suffering from paralysis in their hands grab and grip things.

Josh Miller/CNET

Neofect is also showcasing Neofect Connect, a new standalone app designed to support stroke survivors through recovery at home whether they are using any of Neofect's devices or not. The app recommends exercises and educational materials based on patient ability.

Physical and occupational therapists can connect with users through the app to guide patients through rehabilitation remotely. Neofect Connect is available on iOS and Android.

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The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.