While gaming devices can be used as a treatment for stroke rehabilitation, the “off the shelf” games were not specific to focus on the rehabilitation goals. Sometimes, therapy was limited due to various constraints which include affordability, human resources and infrastructure, adding challenges to deliver the rehabilitation programme.
This became a driving force to Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM), Malaysia’s rehabilitation physician, Associate Professor Dr. Fazah Akhtar Hanapiah, to design her serious games with a specific function which was more virtual, moving away from the physical – the Medical Rehabilitation Virtual Reality (MRVR) platform.
A medical doctor at the Faculty of Medicine UiTM, Malaysia and also a fellow at I-PPerForM (Institute of Pathology, Laboratory and Forensic Medicine), she wanted “to improve the outcome of patients with complex disability and see them get better”. For sustainability of such projects, a good eco-system is required between R&D and deliverance to the required community. VR can address the gaps to deliver rehabilitation in an enriched environment with high fidelity.
This is one of the untapped areas of research in the world and she can proudly say that UiTM is one of the pioneers with a comprehensive and multidisciplinary expert team comprising of medical doctors, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, clinical psychologists, computer scientists and VR experts from the industry (Motiofixo Sdn Bhd).
Her breakthrough of this MRVR was where she incorporated VR technology to gamify rehabilitation medicine and create a platform that encourages patients to fully engage in therapy either it be hospital based, clinic or community center based or even at home. VR is one of the ways where you can bring treatment to the doorstep, bringing technology to a person in need.
In a recent video that featured her team and a stroke patient in a rural setting in Malaysia, the innovation with the high-powered technology, combined with the human spirit provided by the family and friends aided a 57-year old stroke victim’s recovery.
From 2012 to 2019, more than 300,000 Malaysians suffered from stroke and bringing therapy out of the hospital and making it more accessible is very critical.
Fazah says “the reason for trying virtual reality was due to my passion in research with rehabilitation technology and also I wanted to do something impactful and meaningful for my patients and their families.”
This MRVR (Medical Rehabilitation VR) programme is currently in the research prototype stage with collaboration with other UiTM faculties and a private firm.
To read more on Fazah’s breakthrough, please read http://orcid.org/0000-0003-3409-7210