Sensory impairments decrease quality of life and can slow or hinder rehabilitation. Small, computationally powerful electronics have enabled the recent development of wearable systems aimed to improve function for individuals with sensory impairments. The purpose of this review is to synthesize current haptic wearable research for clinical applications involving sensory impairments. We define haptic wearables as untethered, ungrounded body worn devices that interact with skin directly or through clothing and can be used in natural environments outside a laboratory. Results of this review are categorized by degree of sensory impairment. Total impairment, such as in an amputee, blind, or deaf individual, involves haptics acting as sensory replacement; partial impairment, as is common in rehabilitation, involves haptics as sensory augmentation; and no impairment involves haptics as trainer. This review found that wearable haptic devices improved function for a variety of clinical applications including: rehabilitation, prosthetics, vestibular loss, osteoarthritis, vision loss and hearing loss. Future haptic wearables development should focus on clinical needs, intuitive and multimodal haptic displays, low energy demands, and biomechanical compliance for long-term usage.
Rehabilitation; Impairment; Sensory feedback
article via http://www.jneuroengrehab.com/content/12/1/59