Posts Tagged VR

[WEB SITE] Virtual Reality: New Therapy for Neurological Disorders

Virtual Reality: New Therapy for Neurological Disorders

Emerging technology in the form of virtual reality (VR) may provide a new tool to aid treatment for neurological disorders such as autism, schizophrenia and Parkinson’s disease. A recent study suggests that playing games in VR could help individuals with these neurological conditions shift their perceptions of time, which their conditions lead them to perceive differently.

Researchers from the University of Waterloo discovered VR can help improve an individual’s perception of time. “The ability to estimate the passage of time with precision is fundamental to our ability to interact with the world,” says co-author Séamas Weech, a post-doctoral fellow in Kinesiology.

“For some individuals, however, the internal clock is maladjusted, causing timing deficiencies that affect perception and action. Studies like ours help us to understand how these deficiencies might be acquired, and how to recalibrate time perception in the brain.”

Researchers tested 18 females and 13 males with normal vision and no sensory, musculoskeletal or neurological disorders. The researchers used a virtual reality game, Robo Recall, to create a natural setting in which to encourage re-calibration of time perception.

The key manipulation of the study was that the researchers coupled the speed and duration of visual events to the participant’s body movements.

The researchers measured participants’ time perception abilities before and after they were exposed to the dynamic VR task. Some participants also completed non-VR time-perception tasks, such as throwing a ball, to use as a control comparison.

Investigators measured the actual and perceived durations of a moving probe in the time perception tasks. They discovered that the virtual reality manipulation was associated with significant reductions in the participants’ estimates of time, by around 15 percent.

“This study adds valuable proof that the perception of time is flexible, and that VR offers a potentially valuable tool for recalibrating time in the brain,” says Weech. “It offers a compelling application for rehabilitation initiatives that focus on how time perception breaks down in certain populations.”

Weech adds, however, that while the effects were strong during the current study, more research is needed to find out how long the effects last, and whether these signals are observable in the brain.

“For developing clinical applications, we need to know whether these effects are stable for minutes, days, or weeks afterward. A longitudinal study would provide the answer to this question.”

“Virtual reality technology has matured dramatically,” says Michael Barnett-Cowan, neuroscience professor and senior author of the paper.

“VR now convincingly changes our experience of space and time, enabling basic research in perception to inform our understanding of how the brains of normal, injured, aged and diseased populations work and how they can be treated to perform optimally.”

Source: University of Waterloo

 

via Virtual Reality: New Therapy for Neurological Disorders

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[VIDEO] Robot Arm Platform for VR, Rehabilitation, and More – YouTube

Δημοσιεύτηκε στις 6 Δεκ 2018

LinkDyn’s robot arm, and the actuator technology it’s built on, has the potential to fundamentally change the way we interact with robots. This technology which features seamless, safe, and smooth interaction with humans and changing physical environments, will drive the next big push in robotics toward humans and robots interacting closely and safely. The robotic arm provides just one example of how this ability to interact easily and safely with robots can empower the human workforce by exploiting the radical benefits of VR training while losing no drawbacks compared to conventional training. This same technology, with slight adjustments to the VR contents and software, can also serve to help patients suffering from physical or neurological injuries to rehabilitate more effectively than ever. The device was built on LinkDyn’s patent-pending actuator platform, which takes cues from human muscle design and cutting edge human-robot research to deliver the highest performing force control in a compact form factor. This fundamental technology is designed from the ground up for seamless human-machine interaction, and enables a massive leap forward in wearable exoskeletons, interactive robots, haptic feedback, and more compared to conventional robotic technology. https://linkdyn.com

 

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[Abstract] Virtual Reality and Cognitive Rehabilitation in People With Stroke: An Overview.

OBJECTIVE:This review evaluates the use of virtual reality (VR) tools in cognitive rehabilitation of stroke-affected individuals.
METHODS:Studies performed between 2010 and 2017 that fulfilled inclusion criteria were selected from PubMed, Scopus, Cochrane, and Web of Sciences databases. The search combined the terms “VR,” “rehabilitation,” and “stroke.”
RESULTS:Stroke patients experienced significant improvement in many cognitive domains (such as executive and visual-spatial abilities and speech, attention, and memory skills) after the use of VR training.
CONCLUSIONS:Rehabilitation using new VR tools could positively affect stroke patient cognitive outcomes by boosting motivation and participation.

via Virtual Reality and Cognitive Rehabilitation in People With Stroke: An Overview. – Abstract – Europe PMC

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[NEWS] From Fiction to Virtual Reality: OmniPad Launches an Innovative Circular Revolving-Tread Omnidirectional Treadmill That Lets Users Naturally Walk, Jog or Run in any Direction Through VR Worlds

 Jan. 15, 2019, 07:52 AM

IRVINE, Calif.Jan. 15, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — Since the beginning, virtual reality paired with an omnidirectional treadmill that allows users to move through the virtual world in any direction has been relegated to realms of fiction…until now. A new company, OmniPad, (OmniPad.com), is looking to change the world of virtual reality with its sleek and innovative game-changing VR treadmill that allows for fully immersive natural 360-degree movement through virtual space.

The OmniPad utilizes a ball-bearing encrusted omnidirectional platform that supports a flattened spherical, revolving treadmill track. The OmniPad platform enables the locomotion surface to freely revolve endlessly, in any direction, creating a unique omnidirectional treadmill. With the OmniPad, gamers, first responders, architects, virtual tourists, and even the military, can freely walk and run around in real time virtual environments, experiencing the most comprehensive and fully immersive VR experience available.

“Being a professional 3D animator for over 25 years, and having worked on very high-end virtual reality projects, the challenge of ‘how to enable 360-degree locomotion on a stationary surface‘ is a question that burned in my mind since the late 1990’s. I contemplated this obstacle to freedom of VR locomotion for months and years. Then, I was lying in bed one night further toiling with the omnidirectional locomotion surface question, and it dawned on me . . . a water balloon!” said Neil Epstein, OmniPad’s CEO and president. “I realized that when you take a small water balloon, press it firmly between your palms so that the top and bottom surfaces are completely flat, and then motion your hands in opposing circular directions, the flattened water balloon freely revolves in all directions while still remaining completely flat on both sides. Hence, the core mechanics of the OmniPad were born.”

The benefits and features of the OmniPad will include:

  • A Unique Omnidirectional Treadmill Design: The circular moving omnidirectional platform sets the company apart in the VR industry.
  • Unmatched Virtual Reality Immersion: The OmniPad lets virtual reality users experience the most immersive VR experience available by letting users freely and naturally walk, jog and run around in the virtual reality world.
  • Patented Treadmill Design and Construction: The dynamic, never before implemented design mechanics that grant the OmniPad its unique immersive locomotion abilities make it the only VR accessory of its type available in the industry.
  • A Multitude Of Uses Possible Uses: With the appropriate Virtual Reality environments, the OmniPad offers a comprehensive gaming experience, as well as highly-effective training of training first responders and soldiers, and allows architects, engineers, and home buyers to visualize buildings and real estate, and even has significant applications in sports training, eSports competitions, and rehabilitation, among so many other applications.

OmniPad has launched a SEC regulation crowdfunding equity campaign, (https://wefunder.com/omnipad.company ), to share awareness and the potential capabilities of this awe-inspiring product. You can check out the company’s YouTube channel, (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCsR1sCPunIZs2G28DFmmn9A), to see the OmniPad in action.

ABOUT OmniPad

OmniPad is a startup company comprised of some of the brightest and creative minds available. The company’s team includes the world’s foremost expert on omnidirectional locomotion surface technology and Stanford Engineering graduate, David Carmein, the EMMY award-winning 3-D artist and conceptual mind behind OmniPad, Neil Epstein, J.D., and the marketing specialties of Jordan Robinson, Orentheal Williams, and Kenneth Dunn.

Media Contact:
George Pappas
Conservaco/The Ignite Agency
949-339-2002
207740@email4pr.com
https://ignitecfp.com

View original content to download multimedia:https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/from-fiction-to-virtual-reality-omnipad-launches-an-innovative-circular-revolving-tread-omnidirectional-treadmill-that-lets-users-naturally-walk-jog-or-run-in-any-direction-through-vr-worlds-300778419.html

SOURCE OmniPad

 

via From Fiction to Virtual Reality: OmniPad Launches an Innovative Circular Revolving-Tread Omnidirectional Treadmill That Lets Users Naturally Walk, Jog or Run in any Direction Through VR Worlds | Markets Insider

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[WEB SITE] How Virtual Reality Will Transform Medicine – Scientific American

Anxiety disorders, addiction, acute pain and stroke rehabilitation are just a few of the areas where VR therapy is already in use

How Virtual Reality Will Transform Medicine

Credit: Celia Krampien

If you still think of virtual reality as the province of dystopian science fiction and geeky gamers, you had better think again. Faster than you can say “Ready Player One,” VR is starting to transform our world, and medicine may well be the first sector where the impact is profound. Behavioral neuroscientist Walter Greenleaf of Stanford University has been watching this field develop since the days when VR headsets cost $75,000 and were so heavy, he remembers counterbalancing them with a brick. Today some weigh about a pound and cost less than $200. Gaming and entertainment are driving current sales, but Greenleaf predicts that “the deepest and most significant market will be in clinical care and in improving health and wellness.”

Even in the early days, when the user entered a laughably low-resolution world, VR showed great promise. By the mid-1990s research had shown it could distract patients from painful medical procedures and ease anxiety disorders. One initial success was SnowWorld, which immersed burn patients in a cool, frozen landscape where they could lob snowballs at cartoon penguins and snowmen, temporarily blocking out the real world where nurses were scrubbing wounds, stretching scar tissue and gingerly changing dressings. A 2011 study with 54 children in burn units found an up to 44 percent reduction in pain during VR sessions—with the bonus that these injured kids said they had “fun.”

Another success came in the wake of 9/11. Psychologist JoAnn Difede of NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center began using VR with World Trade Center survivors suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and later with soldiers returning from Afghanistan and Iraq.

In Difede’s laboratory, I saw the original 9/11 VR program with its scenes of lower Manhattan and the newer Bravemind system, which depicts Iraqi and Afghan locales. Developed with Department of Defense funding by Albert “Skip” Rizzo and Arno Hartholt, both at the University of Southern California, Bravemind is used to treat PTSD at about 100 U.S. sites. The approach is based on exposure therapy, in which patients mentally revisit the source of their trauma guided by a therapist who helps them form a more coherent, less intrusive memory. In VR, patients do not merely reimagine the scene, they are immersed in it.

Difede showed me how therapists can customize scenes in Bravemind to match a patient’s experience. A keystroke can change the weather, add the sound of gunfire or the call to prayers. It can detonate a car bomb or ominously empty a marketplace. An optional menu of odors enables the patient to sniff gunpowder or spices through a metal tube. “What you do with exposure therapy is systematically go over the trauma,” Difede explains. “We’re teaching the brain to process and organize the memory so that it can be filed away and no longer intrudes constantly in the patient’s life.” The results, after nine to 12 gradually intensifying sessions, can be dramatic. One 2010 study with 20 patients found that 16 no longer met the criteria for PTSD after VR treatment.

Until recently, large-scale studies of VR have been missing in action. This is changing fast with the advent of cheaper, portable systems. Difede, Rizzo and three others just completed a randomized controlled trial with nearly 200 PTSD patients. Expected to be published this year, it may shed light on which patients do best with this high-tech therapy and which do not. In a study with her colleague, burn surgeon Abraham Houng, Difede is aiming to quantify the pain-distraction effects of a successor to SnowWorld called Bear Blast, a charming VR game in which patients toss balls at giggly cartoon bears. They will measure whether burn patients need lower doses of intravenous painkillers while playing.

Greenleaf counts at least 20 clinical arenas, ranging from surgical training to stroke rehabilitation to substance abuse where VR is being applied. It can, for example, help recovering addicts avoid relapses by practicing “refusal skills”—turning down drinks at a virtual bar or heroin at a virtual party. Brain imaging suggests that such scenes can evoke very real cravings, just as Bravemind can evoke the heart-racing panic of a PTSD episode. Researchers foresee a day when VR will help make mental health care cheaper and more accessible, including in rural areas.

In a compelling 2017 paper that reviews 25 years of work, Rizzo and co-author Sebastian Koenig ask whether clinical VR is finally “ready for primetime.” If today’s larger studies bear out previous findings, the answer seems to be an obvious “yes.”

via How Virtual Reality Will Transform Medicine – Scientific American

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[WEB SITE] Virtual reality, Smart car and putting green help patients at new Hoag center recover from traumatic injuries

Hoag Hospital in Newport Beach opened a 21,000-square-foot rehabilitation center on Monday for adults who have suffered orthopedic and neurological crises, including strokes and other traumatic injuries.

The Fudge Family Acute Rehabilitation Center includes 18 rooms, workout equipment, a garden, a putting green and a virtual reality system.

Hoag Dr. Keyvan Esmaeili said the center will serve as a transition area where patients relearn basic tasks lost to injury or illness.

 

The patients are recovering from amputations, brain, spinal cord and orthopedic injuries, strokes and pulmonary disorders, brain tumor surgery and similar challenges.

“The simplest of tasks can be tremendously overwhelming and fatiguing for these patients,” said Mark Glavinic, Hoag’s director of rehabilitation. “This is about bringing function and independence back to them.”

 

The rehab center has a variety of methods to aid patients with regaining motor function, ranging from the traditional — like using overhead harnesses — to the unique.

Mark Glavinic, director of rehabilitation for Hoag Hospital, demonstrates a lift at the Fudge Family Acute Rehabilitation Center for patients who have a hard time supporting themselves.

Mark Glavinic, director of rehabilitation for Hoag Hospital, demonstrates a lift at the Fudge Family Acute Rehabilitation Center for patients who have a hard time supporting themselves. (Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

Glavinic said the virtual reality system is a novel way for patients to sharpen hand-eye skills; they can, for example, use virtual swords to pop on-screen balloons. The system stores patients’ data so medical personnel can track their progress.

 

With an average stay of 12 to 15 days, each patient gets his or her own bedroom and bathroom.

An electronic lift is available to lead patients to the bathroom from bed if they can’t support themselves. Esmaeili said this prevents injuries that can occur when nurses lift patients.

 

The rehab team is composed of physicians, nurses and therapists from stroke centers, neurological institutes and other specialized areas.

The facility also includes a room built to mirror an apartment. It is meant to be a transition room — with associated “obstacles” to navigate — before a patient is released to go home. Patients can practice washing dishes, using a stove and opening cabinets.

When patients need a break from the indoors, recreational therapists will guide them to the garden and putting green.

 

There’s also an engine-less Smart car so patients can relearn how to get in and out of a vehicle.

Mark Glavinic, Hoag Hospital's director of rehabilitation, shows how a Smart car is used to help patients with their daily routines as part of the new Fudge Family Acute Rehabilitation Center.

Mark Glavinic, Hoag Hospital’s director of rehabilitation, shows how a Smart car is used to help patients with their daily routines as part of the new Fudge Family Acute Rehabilitation Center. (Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

The facility, in the making for about 10 years, is one of only a few acute rehabilitation centers at Orange County hospitals.

 

Heidi Pallares, Hoag’s director of corporate communications and media relations, said Hoag doesn’t publicize the full cost of its projects, though $4 million was donated for the center by Gary Fudge of Newport Beach.

 

Fudge, 74, who suffered a stroke in 2010 and underwent treatment at Hoag, said he wanted to help others who are going through the same psychologically draining rehabilitation.

 

“I came face to face with my mortality,” Fudge said. “It wasn’t pleasant.”

Fudge had to regain the ability to perform even the most basic tasks, like deleting an email. He said he has virtually no limitations now.

 

Fudge said he would have benefited from the new center had it been around when he had his stroke. In particular, he said, he shouldn’t have been going home after rehab sessions.

 

“I would have preferred staying here,” Fudge said. “This could have helped me … and it will undoubtedly help others.”

 

via Virtual reality, Smart car and putting green help patients at new Hoag center recover from traumatic injuries – Los Angeles Times

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[WEB SITE] VRHealth unveils VR software for hot flashes

The new technology will provide users with an AI guide that will lead them through CBT.

By Laura Lovett, December 12, 2018

Photo credit: VRHealth

 

VRHealth has exclusively unveiled to MobiHealthNews a virtual reality product called Luna that was designed to help patients manage hot flashes.

The new VR product, which can be used by patients going through menopause or chemotherapy treatment, employs cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). It also gives users a data analysis of their treatment.

When a user puts on the VR headset, they are greeted by an AI trainer called Luna who guides users through CBT and other coping mechanisms. The technology also lets users virtually travel to another environment.

“That trainer you can take to different places. One part of the app is called practice breathing in an environment. It [let’s you] see how you breath,” Eran Orr, CEO of VRHealth, told MobiHealthNews. “Users can actually see the environment and go into a lake or waterfall.”

While the technology will first be given to patients in a hospital setting, Orr said that the idea is for the system to go home with the patients.

“Patients will be introduced to it during chemotherapy or treatment in the hospital and will take [the] headset back home,” he said. “It is an AI that is basically a trainer that follows improvement and can be adjusted automatically.”

The idea for Luna came out of a personal connection. One of the members of the VRHealth team developed the idea for the technology after undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer and experiencing hot flashes as a side effect.

Orr said that Luna will officially launch in January of 2019 at CES.

Why it matters

Hot flashes, which are often triggered by a hormone drop, are associated with breast cancer chemotherapy and surgery to remove the ovaries as well as menopause, according to the Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA). While women are most likely to experience hot flashes, the CTCA said that men can also experience the condition.

Common treatment options include hormone therapy, antidepressants and other prescription medications, according to the Mayo Clinic. Alternative medicine including meditation, acupuncture and CBT are also used.

VRHealth is pitching this technology as another avenue to treat the condition, and Orr hinted that in yet-to-be-released clinical trials Luna outperformed medications for hot flash treatment.

What’s the trend

VRHealth was in the news in September when it teamed up with Facebook’s Oculus, which makes VR hardware and other related products, on a range of healthcare-focused VR applications to be delivered on the latter’s hardware.

VR as a whole is growing. Many in healthcare are looking to the technology to help with pain, discomfort and anxiety. Clinicians are deploying it in a wide range of settings including obstetricspediatrics and rehabilitation.

On the record 

“We believe VR can be an amazing replacement for opiates or any kind of nonnatural hormone and the most common treatments that have a lot of side effects,” Orr said. “We believe VR could be a good solution.”

via VRHealth unveils VR software for hot flashes | MobiHealthNews

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[WEB SITE] VR, AR and the NHS: How virtual and augmented reality will change healthcare – Video

https://www.zdnet.com/video/vr-and-bionic-body-parts/

Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technologies are still at an early stage, but both could have significant benefits for the NHS.

Healthcare organisations could be spending as much as $5bn globally on AR and VR by 2025 according to one prediction, with potential applications ranging from surgical simulation and diagnostic imaging to patient care and rehabilitation. VR headsets — like the Oculus Rift or HTC Vive — offer a fully immersive experience while AR headsets — like Microsoft HoloLens or Magic Leap — allow you to overlay virtual objects onto the real world to create a mixed-reality experience. Both options are being explored by doctors around the world.

And while countries with private healthcare systems are leading the way in VR adoption, countries dominated by publicly-funded healthcare are also exploring these technologies.

Surgeons in Poland have already demonstrated how Google Glass could be used to help plan heart procedures, and now NHS clinicians are following suit. Microsoft’s HoloLens has been used to help surgeons plan operations: for example, surgeons at Alder Hey hospital in Liverpool hope to use it to visualise patients’ scans during procedures, while three surgeons in three separate UK hospitals have used it for bowel cancer surgery.

SEE: Exomedicine arrives: How labs in space could pave the way for healthcare breakthroughs on Earth (cover story PDF)

A team of surgeons at Queen Mary’s Hospital have also been experimenting with wearing HoloLens headsets during surgery, overlaying a map of the patient’s anatomy — showing the path of blood vessels and the course of muscle groups — onto them during surgery. The map is created using CT scans of the patient, and allows the surgeons to navigate away from important structures during surgery. “There’s a lot of activity in this area now these types of devices are readily and commercially available,” says Philip Pratt, research fellow in the department of Surgery & Cancer at Imperial College London.

For example, surgeons who can visualise anatomy using the headsets can more easily avoid sensitive structures when making incisions, potentially reducing the time it takes for the patient to heal and therefore the time they spend in hospital, and similarly reduce the need for any secondary or corrective surgery.

Training up future doctors could also be a growth area for VR. While universities, rather than the NHS, are charged with training medical students, the vast majority of graduates from UK medical schools will go on to work in the NHS, and so their degrees are designed to fit the needs of the health service. Once qualified, junior doctors still receive significant amounts of training within their NHS hospital placements too.

There are already a handful of proof-of-concept anatomy teaching modules that use AR. One medical school in the US is planning to do away with its anatomy lab altogether in favour of using HoloLens.

And for junior doctors — those undertaking training in a medical speciality such as general surgery, psychiatry, or respiratory medicine — VR is likely to have an even greater role in their future training, helping them learn how to perform new procedures in a virtual hospital and even experience them from the patient’s point of view to help improve their communication skills. NASA has even considered using AR headsets to help astronauts conduct medical examinations aboard the International Space Station.

SEE ALSO: AI and the NHS: How artificial intelligence will change everything for patients and doctors

VR and AR won’t just be doctors’ tools, however: early experiments are showing that patients too could be seeing more virtual reality headsets in their future.

Companies like Oxford VR have been trialling the use of VR technology to help mental health patients. The University of Oxford spinout has been using simulated environments and a virtual coach to help people tackle their fear of heights.

The National Institute of Health Research is funding Oxford VR to the tune of £4m to develop a VR therapy package for patients with psychosis; it is also working on a package for young people with social anxiety. Commercial VR headsets are combined with custom software to create virtual versions of the environments that patients would typically find difficult, allowing them to explore those situations safely and, eventually, become comfortable with them. The NIHR said it believes the funding will help create a VR product that will be taken up by the NHS.

VR therapy has also been tested at King’s College and the South London and Maudsley trustfor improving auditory hallucinations in people with schizophrenia, and to help families affected by the Grenfell fire.

There have also been signs that virtual reality could be used for neurological, as well as psychiatric, conditions. Traumatic brain injury can leave people severely disabled, and can require intensive rehabilitation before they’re able to perform their day-to-day activities unassisted. It’s thought VR could be used for both assessing and treating traumatic brain injury. For example, avatars in VR have been used to assess patients’ higher brain functions or detect cognitive problems, while virtual kitchens have helped healthcare professionals assess how people with traumatic brain injury can undertake normal daily activities. VR has also been used to improve balance or attention after traumatic brain injury.

SEE: Executive’s guide to the business value of VR and AR (free ebook)

For now, however, most use of VR as a treatment tool is very much in the pilot stage, offered to relatively few people; larger trials with hundreds of participants would be needed before it would be possible to assess the benefits of such treatments for the population as a whole.

It’s worth remembering that even outside of the healthcare space VR and AR are at an early stage; the hardware is still cumbersome, the applications still evolving, and the pricing still way too high. As the general market evolves, ways to apply the technology to the NHS may become clearer. Sectors such as retail, for example, where spending on new technology is less constrained, will potentially act as examples of how the technology can be used in the healthcare.

“When I see AR or VR in the retail environment, I think it’s almost desensitising some of the use cases that the NHS can then take a more bold step towards,” Andrew Finlayson, managing director of Accenture Interactive, told ZDNet.

“I do think the more that gaming and those techniques are becoming popular, the more that those companies will make their technologies more accessible to the wider populace, and they will either drop the price or they will subsidise the headsets — make them cheaper so they can sell more games, or telecoms or media. I think gaming is bringing down some of the cost and accessibility that would allow more virtual and augmented reality [in the NHS].”

The success of AR and VR has been just around the corner for decades, but if the most recent crop of headsets proved a success with consumers and business, expect to see a lot more use of such technologies in the NHS in the near future.

 

via VR, AR and the NHS: How virtual and augmented reality will change healthcare | ZDNet

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[WEB SITE] Virtual Reality Therapy Designed to Help Stroke Patients Recover

Those recovering from a stroke often face an uphill battle. Rehabilitation typically requires executing continuous, repetitive movements, which can be extremely frustrating and monotonous for the patient.

One company is hoping to change that by incorporating virtual reality-based physical and cognitive exercise games into stroke rehabilitation programs.

The neurotechnology company MindMaze has introduced MindMotion PRO, a 3D virtual environment therapy for upper limb neurorehabilitation for victims of stroke.

As early as one to six weeks post stroke, patients can use this technology to complete customized interactive exercises in a virtual reality environment. The exercises are designed to stimulate the specific area of the brain damaged by the stroke. These training games engage 3D motion tracking cameras, which capture and map patient movements onto 3D avatars in different exercises of the patient’s shoulder, elbow, forearm, and wrist movements. MindMotion is designed for patients starting in the earliest stage of recovery and can be used from a hospital bed if needed.

The technology received FDA clearance in May and is in the process of launching its first U.S. study, which will be based at University of California, San Francisco. The study is expected to launch in fall 2017.

So far, patient responses have been extremely positive, said Andrea Serino, Ph.D., the head of neuroscience at MindMaze.

“Most of the patients are enthusiastic about virtual reality technologies,” said Serino, in an interview with R&D Magazine. “In most clinics, rehabilitation is really boring. But with MindMotion instead of doing one simple, boring repetitive movement over and over, you can have the same movement— because it’s very important that you have the repetition of the same movement—but in a context that is gamified and enjoyable for the patients.”

MindMotion Mask. Credit: MindMaze
Benefits of virtual reality

 

In addition to making rehabilitation more enjoyable for the patients, virtual reality also has the potential to improve rehabilitation outcomes compared to traditional exercise-based therapies. By using an avatar in a virtual reality environment, healthcare professionals can directly stimulate not only the body of the patient, but their brain.

“We know that if you see another person doing movement, you activate the brain regions that normally activate when you do the same movement,” explained Serino. “By having an avatar in our MindMotion Pro machine which represents the movement of the patients while the patient is moving, we are stimulating both the motor cortex to produce the movement, and an action observation loop to activate the brain regions that have been damaged by the stroke.”

Patients that have no mobility on one side of the body can enter a virtual reality environment and participate in games that require them to move only their working arm. At the same time, their avatar can move the opposite arm, activating the areas that correspond to the damaged part of their cortex.

There is also potential to pair this type of virtual reality technology with robotics technologies that could physically move a paralyzed limb during this exercise.

Utilizing virtual reality for stroke rehabilitation also has benefits for the clinicians that work with these patients. Intensive, repetitive movements continued over a long duration have proven to be the best way for a patient to recover from a stroke. However, this type of treatment requires significant supervision and effort from medical personal.

A virtual reality machine can guide the patient in these repetitive exercises, allowing them to train more often and with increased intensity, while requiring a lower level of supervision and assistance. In addition, the machine monitors each patient’s progress, allowing healthcare providers to track and update their treatment regimen more specifically.

What’s Next

MindMaze is working to expand their MindMotion offerings for stroke rehabilitation virtual reality technology.

“The idea of MindMotion is to take care of patients from the beginning of their disease to the end,” said Serino. “We want to help patients all along the journey of their rehabilitation—from the acute care units, to the rehabilitation units, to the outpatient screenings, and when they go home. This means that you cannot have a single device to do all of these things, because depending on the status of the patient, and the phase of the disease, you will need different approaches and different technologies with different ideas behind them.”

In addition to MindMotion Pro, MindMaze has already developed MindMotion Go, which was created for patients in the later phases of stroke recovery. This is meant to be used in clinics and incorporates more “gamified” types of exercise.

There is also potential to branch out into other neurological diseases, although Serino said MindMaze wants to focus their resources on providing care to stroke patients first. However, he sees future applications for this technology for patients with multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, or those with dementia and mild cognitive impairment. He also sees potential for these devices to be used in children suffering from attention challenges or other cognitive challenges.

As virtual reality continues to take off within healthcare, and specifically within the neurological space, it is important that new technologies are designed with thought and care to the specific disease they are treating, said Serino.

Virtual reality has such good potential for the rehabilitation field that for sure it will continue to develop, but I think the challenge is how we do that,” he said. “We are now in the moment where we have to define how we are going to use this technology in healthcare. We have to do it in a way that really incorporates the rehabilitation techniques that we already know. We have to use it with a sufficient level of complexity so that we can implement the knowledge we have from the field of neuroscience. That will be the way that we really benefit from this technology.”

 

via Virtual Reality Therapy Designed to Help Stroke Patients Recover

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[ARTICLE] The effect of virtual reality-based balance training on motor learning and postural control in healthy adults: a randomized preliminary study – Full Text

Abstract

Background

Adults with sedentary lifestyles seem to face a higher risk of falling in their later years. Several causes, such as impairment of strength, coordination, and cognitive function, influence worsening health conditions, including balancing ability. Many modalities can be applied to improve the balance function and prevent falling. Several studies have also recorded the effects of balance training in elderly adults for fall prevention. Accordingly, the aim of this study is to define the effect of virtual reality-based balance training on motor learning and postural control abilities in healthy adults.

Methods

For this study, ten subjects were randomly allocated into either the conventional exercise (CON) or the virtual reality (VR) group. The CON group underwent physical balance training, while the VR group used the virtual reality system 4 weeks. In the VR group, the scores from three game modes were utilized to describe the effect of motor learning and define the learning curves that were derived with the power law function. Wilcoxon Signed Ranks Test was performed to analyze the postural control in five standing tasks, and data were collected with the help of a force plate.

Results

The average score was used to describe the effect of motor learning by deriving the mathematical models for determining the learning curve. Additionally, the models were classified into two exponential functions that relied on the aim and requirement skills. A negative exponential function was observed in the game mode, which requires the cognitive-motor function. In contrast, a positive exponential function was found in the game with use of only the motor skill. Moreover, this curve and its model were also used to describe the effect of learning in the long term and the ratio of difficulty in each game. In the balance performance, there was a significant decrease in the center of pressure parameters in the VR group, while in the CON group, there was a significant increase in the parameters during some foot placements, especially in the medio-lateral direction.

Conclusion

The proposed VR-based training relies on the effect of motor learning in long-term training though different kinds of task training. In postural analysis, both exercise programs are emphasized to improve the balance ability in healthy adults. However, the virtual reality system can promote better outcomes to improve postural control post exercising.

Trial registration Retrospectively registered on 25 April 2018. Trial number TCTR20180430005

Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (10.1186/s12938-018-0550-0) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

Background

The incidence of falls can occur in people of all ages and is not exclusively restricted to the elderly population []. Although the causes of falls are different for each age group, the decline in balance ability is a major factor for the high risk of falls. In older people, the decline in balance ability may occur due to physiological deterioration, pathological factors, problems of ambulation, and endurance reduction []. In addition, the physical activity level of children and middle-aged adults has decreased due to the development of technology, which has resulted in restriction of movement. This has led to the worsening of health conditions due to the deterioration of the neurotransmitter system [] and muscle mass and strength [], giving rise to chronic diseases [] as well as cognitive decline [], which may induce a higher risk of falls in the future. People who suffer from these tend to get injured easily, which results in worsening of self-efficacy and functional dysfunction, even though they are disturbed by a small disturbance []. Increasing physical activity, such as exercise, has a positive effect on several aspects, including postural stability and falling prevention [].

Exercising is important, as it improves humans’ individual or systematic system, which is related to balance performance []. Exercises employ help prevent physiological deterioration by increasing strength and endurance of the body. For example, challenging the sensory system during postural tasks can enhance balance ability by reweighting the functional sensory inputs []. However, significant differences have been observed among various exercise programs, and some exercises have little effect on the balance function []. Balance exercise programs may be made ineffective because of several reasons. First, various physiological systems are used to achieve the postural task []. Second, the activities, which require balancing ability, can be achieved by coordinating between motor skills and cognitive activities []. Moreover, the training program with clinical guidelines is more effective than the program without any instruction []. Therefore, a combination of the exercise approach and the feedback during training process is used to improve the body’s functional ability, including balance performance [].

Using the gaming with the biofeedback system, such as the virtual reality (VR) system, is widely used for rehabilitation []. It is due to the fact that the VR system can make the treatment more interesting, reduce the difficulty of rehabilitation, and increase safety []. One advantage of VR-based training is that this technology allows altering the neural organization, encouraging neuroplastic changes in neurological patients [], reducing the fear of falling, and transferring into the real-world task through motor learning []. However, some VR-based balance training requires a specific balance platform, including Wii Fit balance board, to supply the sensory feedback information that may be restricted during the training process due to the requirement of a specific movement []. For this reason, popular sensors, e.g., the Microsoft Kinect sensor, have been used to show improvement in balance ability in several studies. This is due to the fact that Kinect sensor provides three-dimensional positions without using markers. These positions are used as input for the VR-system to improve balance function and reduce the fear of falling in older adults [].

In several studies, there were significant differences in clinical balance measures among participants who had trained with the help of conventional balance exercises, including the VR system []. Additionally, most studies focused on their applications in improving balance for patients with neurological disorders [] or elderly people []. Therefore, the aim of this study is to investigate the effects of VR-based balance training in healthy adults through motor learning and postural control. The questions included in the proposed study are (a) how does the VR-based balance exercise rely on the effect of motor learning? (b) how do the different exercise modalities influence the impairment of balance ability through comparison of balance performance before and after exercise? We hypothesize that the VR system affects postural control through motor learning. In addition, both balance exercise programs influence the postural control, but the balance performance in the VR-based balance exercise is better than the outcome of the conventional exercise.

Methods

Participants

The experiment in this study was designed as the pilot study. Community-dwelling healthy adults around the area of Mahidol University were recruited for the study. The inclusion criteria were (a) 40–60 years of age, (b) no history of injuries or diseases that influence balance function, (c) no intake of medications that affect postural control system, at least 12 h prior to the experiment, (d) no alcohol consumption 12 h prior to the experiment. The exclusion criteria were (a) individuals with dependent ambulation, (b) individuals who cannot communicate in the Thai language, and (c) individuals who have any disease that affects balance function.

Prior to data collection, all participants signed informed consent, which was approved by the Mahidol University Central Institutional Review Board (MU-IRB: 2014/112.1508). Demographic data and health information of the participants were obtained, following which they were randomly categorized into two groups, the virtual reality exercise (VR) group and the conventional balance exercise (CON) group, by blindly drawing a sealed piece of paper. The VR group (n = 5) received the dual-task virtual-reality balance training system (DTVRBT), while the CON group (n = 5) was assigned the conventional balance exercise.

Protocol

The experimental protocol comprised three steps: the pre-test of balance performance, the balance training session, and the post-test for the evaluation of the balance ability after training. In the study, five standing tasks, including standing unsupported with eyes open (EO) and close (EC) conditions, standing with both feet together, tandem, and one-leg stance were evaluated. Results of balance evaluation in each task were collected for 10 s/trial, with three trials, and the testing focused on the dominant leg in tandem and the one-leg stance. The total of time duration for data analysis was 30 s. In this study, the MatScan® model 3150 (Massachusetts, USA) was used to assess the center-of-pressure (CoP) in the anterior–posterior (AP) and medio-lateral (ML) directions with the sampling rate was 64 Hz. The data of each subject was exported with the Sway Analysis Module (SAM™). The training session started after 1 week of completion of the pre-test, and the post-test was performed within 1 week of finishing the training session. All participants received twelve 45-min sessions of training in the DTVRBT or the conventional balance exercise program. Moreover, three sessions were held per week for a period of 4 weeks. The same physical therapist conducted the training for both groups.

Dual-task virtual reality balance training system

The DTVRBT consists of a laptop and the Kinect sensor (Washington, USA) as shown in Fig. Fig.1.1. This sensor can construct 3D images from the functional integration of two components, an RGB camera and an infrared sensor []. The 3D information from this sensor allows users to interact with the object in the virtual environment. In this study, the virtual environment was created with the Unity3D® version 5.3.2. (San Francisco, USA).

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Fig. 1
The process of interaction in the virtual environment by the Kinect sensor

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