Academic and technical experts from the University of Strathclyde and the National Manufacturing Institute Scotland (NMIS) have partnered with UK and European partners to use video game technology to cut rehabilitation times for patients with stroke, dystonia and sports injuries by up to 30%.
Image source: National Manufacturing Institute Scotland (NMIS)
The two-year PRIME-VR2 project is funded by the European Commission under Horizon 2020, an initiative to promote economic growth through research, and will create a digital virtual reality (VR) environment within rehabilitation programs.
The technology aims to improve rehabilitation speed and completion rates by stimulating it and will complement traditional rehabilitation methods while reducing the physical demands on occupational therapists and physiotherapists.
The digital platform is structured as a tier-based system that requires patients to play online games in order to progress. The digital platform enables the medical staff to track the progress of the patients using game data and to provide ongoing virtual support.
The technology will help patients develop upper body motor skills to improve the movement of their arms, wrists, hands and fingers and provide personalized activities based on their unique cognitive and physical impairments. For example, people with the neurological movement disorder dystonia can practice pouring a glass of water in the virtual world without spilling a drop in reality.
The University of Strathclyde and NMIS support the industrial partners Loud1Design in the development of the virtual program and a prototype of a bespoke video game controller. The controller is individually manufactured for each patient according to their condition and personal requirements using additive manufacturing, a form of 3D printing in which an object is built up in thin layers.
The project, coordinated by the University of Pisa, includes other academic partners such as the Universities of Malta and Oulu, University College London and industrial partners from the world of technology and games. Saint James Hospital, Kinisiforo & NICOMED Rehabilitation Center, and Global Disability Innovation Hub are serving patient needs and will monitor progress when prototypes are completed.
Andrew Wodehouse, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Design, Manufacturing and Engineering Management at the University of Strathclyde and founder of the European Consortium, said: “We are very excited to be working with the Consortium on this exciting project to improve patient rehabilitation.” Virtual reality games that are tailored to your individual needs.
“The outcome of this project will make the long recovery process more engaging while also allowing an accurate record of the patient’s performance, allowing specific and measurable goals to shorten rehabilitation time. We all look forward to the completion of the project as it will mark a significant milestone in interactive technologies to improve physical health and performance. “
Kareema Hilton, Manufacturing Engineer at the National Manufacturing Institute Scotland, said, “This is a fantastic project that will allow us to leverage developments in digital technology to potentially improve healthcare. The use of additive manufacturing shows the advantages of a flexible design that can be tailored to the individual user – in this case to support the physical needs of the individual to support rehabilitation.
“We work closely with our colleagues at the University of Strathclyde and the broader consortium, bringing expertise from a variety of fields to ensure that the virtual platform and physical controller fully reflect each patient’s needs.”
I am looking forward to working with Dr. Wodehouse and the teams involved to work on this project. Your human-centered design approach fits in well with my commercial design practice and PRIME-VR2 strengthens our industrial-academic collaboration. NMIS ‘know-how and resources will enable us to push the boundaries of additive manufacturing and responsive design in providing these bespoke VR controllers. “
Brian Loudon, Loud1Design owner
Development and testing of tailor-made VR controllers for the Prime VR2 project – Dr. Andrew Wodehouse
Video Credit: National Manufacturing Institute Scotland (NMIS)