A virtual treatment game brings rehab options into patients homes.
Constraint-Induced Movement Therapy, an intense regimen of exercises to help patients rebuild motor skills in the wake of a stroke. Despite its utility, very few patients - less than one percent - receive the treatment: In addition to the high cost, CI therapy requires a lot of time and an often-prohibitive number of trips to and from treatment. To make the treatment a viable option for more patients, researchers at Ohio State University's Wexner Medical Center have created are using a custom-made video game to emulate CI therapy, providing a portable treatment guide that allows stroke victims to rehab at home.
Using the first-generation Kinect and a padded mitt with motion sensor to detect each individual finger, the game puts players in control an avatar in a river canyon area, and must perform repetitive motions with their affected arm to simulate tasks rowing and swatting away a swarm of bats in a cave. Though the mechanics may seem simple, the treatment is very intense: 30 hours of play over two weeks, plus wearing a padded mitt, which doctors say reminds patients to use their weakened hand, 10 hours per day.
After early trials, the game-based therapy seem to yield results similar to patients undergoing the standard treatment, according to team neurologist Lynne Gauthier. Patients also report that the game keeps them motivated while training and makes the potentially dull exercises a little more interesting. If those results hold, similar treatments could be used to help patients dealing with fine motor issues related to bells-palsy, multiple sclerosis and other neurological disorders.