10.05.2019 change 10.05.2019

Scientists from the University of Silesia are testing prototypes of rehabilitation games

Photo: Fotolia Photo: Fotolia

Prototypes of computer games created to support physical rehabilitation of patients, including the youngest ones, are being tested by scientists from the Institute of Computer Science of the University of Silesia. The games are designed to help people with post-traumatic problems, rheumatological and orthopaedic disorders.

"It can be a game with a fairly simple plot, for example allowing for rehabilitation of upper limbs. Patient collects apples and the apple collection formula can be designed by a physiotherapist" - Paweł Janik from the Department of Biomedical Computer Systems at the University of Silesia said during the solution presentation in Katowice.

"The game allows to input virtually any movements, which are then treated as a model the patient should use in the process of rehabilitation. If there is a deviation from the pre-set model, the apple that we try to collect may disappear and the movement must be performed again, from the beginning" - Dr. Janik explained the principle of the games of this type.

Rehabilitation games designed at the University of Silesia do not use cameras (those require the arrangement of a special stage that should not be disturbed, for example, by a physiotherapist), but individual sensors placed, for example, on the back, so that the breathing movement does not interfere with the measurements.

Thanks to the sensor, the patient can play with an avatar visible on the screen, for example a teddy bear in games "Misiobieg" (Bear Run) or "Misiolot" (Bear Flight), and then, trying to avoid numerous obstacles, depending on the plot, collect honeycombs or move between spaces on the spaceship.

"The plot of the game should activate patients to perform an exercise that they usually do not perform. This type of solution can be used by people who have to do repetitive exercises on a daily basis. Performing the same movements repeatedly quickly becomes tedious. If we have a story, an extended environment, the patient should be more willing get involved" - said Dr. Janik.

Rehabilitation games can also use VR (virtual reality) goggles, allowing the patient to immerse in virtual reality. Such solutions can be used, for example, for physiotherapy of people performing exercises in a sitting or lying position.

"One of the concepts is the partial transfer of rehabilitation to home conditions. This is one of the determinants of the systems that we design and propose for implementation" - noted the scientist.

All the more reason for the experts from the University of Silesia to want their solutions to be as cheap as possible. "Systems that use inertial sensors are available, but they are relatively expensive, we are talking about costs reaching tens of thousands of zlotys, or at least a dozen thousands. We have created the entire hardware base from scratch in our laboratory" - said Dr. Janik.

A rehabilitation game requires three components: a sensor, a router and a device that will receive and process radio signals, for example any portable computer. Researchers are improving individual elements to make the system more efficient.

According to the university, the rehabilitation games developed by its scientists are consulted with experts, including specialists from the Adaptation Centre for Disabled Children in Ruda Śląska and employees of the Provincial Specialist Hospital No. 3 in Rybnik.

Scientists from the Institute of Informatics of the University of Silesia presented a rehabilitation game, a respiratory inhalation support system and an oscillating vest as examples of innovative solutions in the field of biomedical engineering in April, during a conference at the REHexpo Rehabilitation Fair in Sosnowiec.

PAP - Science in Poland, Mateusz Babak

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