Astrojax has been found to have therapeutic uses, and has been included in a number of therapy product catalogs. The obvious use is for physical rehabilitation. It seems there might be neurological uses as well. Below is a testimonial from somebody who has a connective tissue disorder that affects proprioception, and people on the autism/Aspergers spectrum often find the toy intriguing.
As a physicist, what intrigues me about the testimonial is that the therapeutic effects seem to be particularly related to play with vertical orbits, and vertical orbits are the orbits that have a chaotic nature. The chaotic nature of vertical orbits was first identified in 2006. Having a chaotic nature means, bizarrely, that the system is infinitely sensitive to input motion. This is why play with vertical orbits can't just be produced by a machine that oscillates the top ball at any particular frequency. Constant monitoring and adaptation is required. (It is this chaotic nature which makes vertical orbits almost seem to have a mind of their own, giving vertical orbits their playful feel.). Another advantage of the chaotic nature of the play is that it is sufficiently varied that it may avoid repetitive stress problems.
I don't know if any studies have shown broad neurological benefits to play with a chaotic system, but I suspect that is the case. If that was known to be true, it could possibly be applied to other types of neurological issues.
TESTIMONIAL/CASE STUDY OF CONRAD WILDE
I was surprised to find that the new ones are so much more comfortable and enjoyable to use that the old set just ended up in the closet while the new ones took up permanent residence on my desk. My kid loves them, I love them, and I can't say enough good things about both sets. The glow-in-the-dark ones are lighter and easy to start with, but I find I enjoy the heavier weight and more obvious feedback of the Pro model I have. They look great and they really are like pieces of art, making it easy to leave them out somewhere accessible, which means they get used a lot. They're sincerely ethical in the way they are made too, and I love that I can actually feel proud to own them. That's such a rare thing these days, and it's a wonderful part of the experience of enjoying them to know that it isn't doing the rest of the world any harm.
After playing with these Astrojax maybe 5-20 minutes a day for about 2 weeks I started to notice real improvements in my ability to coordinate movement even in completely unrelated tasks, and those improvements gradually increased over the following months. I now find that I drop things less, I stumble less, I can catch objects almost as well as the average person and I generally feel more confident. I never expected to gain confidence from playing with a toy and it sounds a bit strange to say but... I actually did.
I've tried a lot of targeted clinical physiotherapy approaches, and while they have merit, I always found they weren't engaging enough for me, I never really saw much benefit even after months of diligently committing to prescribed routines (most left me feeling worse) and I always felt cheated out of the time spent doing all the recommended exercises... Which only left me feeling guilty when I ultimately chose not to keep doing them. These Astrojax are so genuinely fun that it's hard to put them down, but when I do they're just a toy and the pressure is far less. It seems like such a small thing but it makes a difference somehow. I also find I can use them for quite a while without experiencing as much pain or fatigue as I do with most other activities. The movements involved seem to be varied enough to avoid the repetitive motion injuries I'm so prone to, and it's really refreshing to have something fun I can use to get moving without making as many compromises. As easy as it is to learn basic tricks with them, there seems to be a virtually unlimited potential to create new tricks too, so they're creatively stimulating and they offer the satisfaction that comes from honing a skill.
I still find my ability to perform vertical orbits has not improved over time, which is expected because my proprioceptive deficit is not likely something that can be cured and the chaotic movement of vertical orbits specifically means that they unavoidably rely on proprioceptive feedback loops (there's no way to 'cheat') but in all other regards I have improved so much with what feels like such minimal effort. It's worth the purchase just for the confidence that comes with not dropping things or fumbling as easily, but there's something kind of relaxing and mindful about them too and I really enjoy them in a practical sense. I also find I experience less chronic pain and muscle tension when I play with them regularly, which has been a fascinating and pleasantly unexpected 'side-effect.' As someone for whom most pain medications are not a viable option, I'm always happy to see improvement in my pain levels, and while it's not an overnight thing, it's actually a better result than most clinical approaches tried so far.
There really is something special about the chaotic movement of these toys for its ability to challenge very specific parts of the nervous system which aren't easily isolated otherwise. I stand by Astrojax as both an excellent toy and a highly effective tool for improving coordination, especially for those with proprioceptive deficits who struggle with reflex actions. While I cannot guarantee that everyone will experience the same results I have, I promise you won't regret giving them a try!