Academic and engineering experts from the University of Strathclyde and the National Manufacturing Institute Scotland (NMIS) have partnered with UK and EU partners to cut rehabilitation times for stroke patients by up to 30%, of dystonia and sports injuries using video game-style technology. .
Image Credit: National Manufacturing Institute Scotland (NMIS)
Funded by the European Commission as part of Horizon 2020, an initiative to stimulate economic growth through research, the two-year PRIME-VR2 project will create a digital environment using virtual reality (VR) through programs of rehabilitation.
The technology aims to improve the speed of rehabilitation and completion rates by making it more stimulating and will complement traditional rehabilitation methods while alleviating the physical demands placed on occupational therapists and physiotherapists.
Structured as a level-based system where patients must complete online games to progress, the digital platform allows medical staff to track patient progress using game data and provide ongoing support virtually. .
The technology will help patients develop upper body motor skills to improve movements of their arms, wrists, hands and fingers and provide personalized activities based on their unique cognitive and physical impairments. For example, people with neurological movement dystonia can practice pouring a glass of water in the virtual world without spilling a drop in the real world.
The University of Strathclyde and the NMIS are supporting the industrial partners Loud1Design in the development of the virtual program and a prototype of a bespoke video game controller. The controller will be custom-made for each patient based on their condition and personal needs using additive manufacturing, a form of 3D printing where an object is constructed one thin layer at a time, allowing for customization.
Coordinated by the University of Pisa, the project 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 and NICOMED Rehabilitation Center and Global Disability Innovation Hub are providing 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 extremely pleased to be working alongside the Consortium on this exciting company, improving the rehabilitation of patients using virtual reality games tailored to their individual needs.
“The outcome of this project will make the long recovery process more engaging while allowing the patient’s performance to be accurately recorded, thus enabling specific and measurable goals to speed up rehabilitation time. We all look forward to the completion of the project, as it will be an important milestone for interactive technology in improving physical health and performance. “
Kareema Hilton, Manufacturing Engineer at National Manufacturing Institute Scotland, said: “This is a fantastic project that allows us to use developments in digital technology to potentially improve healthcare. The use of additive manufacturing demonstrates the benefits of a flexible design that can be tailor-made for an individual user – in this case, to meet an individual’s physical needs to aid in rehabilitation.
“We work closely with our colleagues at the University of Strathclyde and the wider consortium, bringing expertise from diverse backgrounds to ensure that the virtual platform and physical controller fully reflect the needs of each patient. “
I am delighted to be working on this project alongside Dr Wodehouse and the teams involved. Their human-centered design approach aligns well with my commercial design practice, and PRIME-VR2 strengthens our industrial-academic collaboration. The expertise and resources of NMIS will allow us to push the boundaries of additive manufacturing and responsive design in the delivery of these bespoke virtual reality controllers. “
Brian Loudon, Owner of Loud1Design
Design and test custom VR controllers for the Prime-VR2 project – Dr Andrew Wodehouse
Video credit: National Manufacturing Institute Scotland (NMIS)
National Manufacturing Institute of Scotland (NMIS)