SINGAPORE - Squeeze, release. Squeeze, release. For stroke patients, squeezing stress balls for physiotherapy is hardly an engaging exercise. But a machine created by four Ngee Ann Polytechnic students could put a fun spin on the activity.
The students, aged 19 to 26, linked stress balls with force-detection sensors to a computer, on which patients can play four interactive games using the stress balls. In one, the ball controls a frog which has to dive for fish; in another, patients use the balls to deflect bombs.
The machine is among 56 technology projects by students that are exhibited at the polytechnic's open house, which runs from today till Saturday.
The students spent about a year working on it in collaboration with the Thye Hua Kwan Moral Society (THK).
The machine can also help people who are recovering from hand-related injuries, and children who have hand- eye coordination problems.
It has undergone trial runs with four elderly patients from Queenstown Multi-Service Centre and THK Rehabilitation and Wellness Centre in Ang Mo Kio, as well as three children from THK Children's Therapy Centre.
Although the games were meant for children, the team said they were surprised to find that the elderly enjoyed them too.
"It gives them something fun to do while exercising, instead of just pressing the ball like in normal therapy, which they said was kind of boring," said student Raynard Hadiwidjaja, 20.
Ms Chan Yong Qing, an occupational therapist at the Queenstown centre, said: "The elderly responded well to the games, which are usually quite interactive and can get the patients interested."
Another project featured at the open house is a heat recovery system by three mechanical engineering students, which puts Singaporeans' reliance on air-conditioning to good use.
The system uses the waste heat generated by the air-con while you sleep to heat water for your shower the next day.
The students' prototype can heat enough water for four showers using the energy from eight hours of air-con. They estimate this could save households $240 per year in electricity bills.
"You can save energy and stretch your dollar at the same time," said student Desmond Lou, 21.
"You don't even need to switch anything off."
This article was first published on January 08, 2015.
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