Prototype uses videogame technology to help stroke patients

Videogame technology is being used for the first time to provide stroke patients with interactive rehabilitation from their own homes.

This technology, I have no doubt, will improve people's experience of rehabilitation immensely.

Stroke survivor Ossie Newell MBE

Videogame technology is being used for the first time to provide stroke patients with interactive rehabilitation from their own homes.

A team led by Professor Philip Breedon, professor of smart technologies at Nottingham Trent University, is using Microsoft Kinect – a gaming device which senses movement and voice commands - to help patients with facial palsy.

Following 18 months of research, the team has now developed its first prototype and plans to explore how it can trialled for the development of an advanced prototype in a move towards commercialisation.

The device – which is commonly used with Microsoft games consoles Xbox 360 and Xbox One – is used to help monitor stroke patients' facial movements during their daily exercise regimes and provide encouragement and recognition for their accomplishments.

Connected to a regular PC monitor and a mini computer which contains the software, users are presented with a live image of themselves. An inset screen simultaneously shows pre-recorded clips of a speech and language therapist who guides them through their exercises and provides feedback.

The system - which has been developed in consultation with stroke survivors - allows therapists to configure bespoke exercise programmes to meet the individual needs of each patient.

It also allows for an augmented view of the user to be shown instead of the patient's face, should this be his or her preference.

The team plans to also develop the technology to allow live data to be transmitted from a 3G mobile broadband dongle in the computer interface box to a remote database which clinicians can access to monitor a patient's progress, reducing the need for site visits.

The project - funded with a £347,000 National Institute for Health Research Invention for Innovation (NIHR i4i) grant - is in partnership with the University of Nottingham, Nottingham City Care Partnership and Maddison Product Design.

Professor Breedon, of the University's School of Architecture, Design and the Built Environment, said: "This innovation will allow stroke patients, we believe for the first time ever, to receive interactive therapy exercises and feedback for facial weakness after a stroke.

"It represents a considerable advancement on the traditional methods currently used which are mostly based on patients reading a series of exercises from a sheet of paper.

"By making the exercise regime interactive, patients will receive much-needed encouragement and recognition for their accomplishments, no matter how small.

"We've received very positive feedback from the stroke survivors who've supported us throughout the design process and we hope this simple innovation can be used widely in the near future."

Professor Pip Logan, professor of rehabilitation research at University of Nottingham's Faculty of Medicine & Health Sciences, said: "Providing recognition and encouragement is vital part of the recovery process for people who've been through something as devastating as a stroke.

"And until now it simply hasn't been possible for clinicians to give patients feedback on their progress on a daily basis.

"We hope that this technology will provide patients with an improved understanding of their recovery.

"Not only that, but it promises to provide clinicians with strong data and supports the NHS policy to improve the quality of rehabilitation regimes and deliver more tailored services in the community."

Ossie Newell MBE, a stroke survivor who is involved in stroke rehabilitation research at the University of Nottingham, said: "It's essential for people who've been through a stroke, like me, to be given all the support possible to get their lives back on track.

"This technology, I have no doubt, will improve people's experience of rehabilitation immensely, and I hope that it can be rolled out to help other people who've endured something as life-changing as a stroke."

The first prototype is currently being trialled with a small group of stroke patients, and the team wish to complete a full clinical trial with a larger group of stroke patients and people with facial weakness from other conditions.

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    The team includes Professor Philip Breedon, professor of smart technologies at Nottingham Trent University; Adam Russell, former lead software developer at Nottingham Trent University's School of Architecture, Design and the Built Environment; Paul Watts, lead software developer, Nottingham Trent University's School of Architecture, Design and the Built Environment; Professor Pip Logan, professor of rehabilitation research at University of Nottingham; Professor Michael Vloeberghs, Paediatric neurosurgeon, Nottingham University Hospital; Ossie Newell MBE, a stroke survivor involved in stroke rehabilitation research at the University of Nottingham; Becca O'Brien, clinical specialist speech and language therapist from of Nottingham CityCare Partnership UK; Dr Judi Edmans, senior research fellow at University of Nottingham; Professor Darrin Baines, associate professor at Coventry University; Oliver Bishop, director at Maddison Product Design UK; Patrick Hall, development director at Maddison Product Design UK; Ben Childs and James Coleman, designers at Maddison Product Design UK.

Prototype uses videogame technology to help stroke patients

Published on 22 October 2014
  • Category: Business; Research; School of Architecture, Design and the Built Environment

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