Thursday, 30 July 2009

Using the Wii in Rehabilitation?

It's just in the research stage at the moment, but there's an underground movement to use the Wii for health purposes, rather than gaming. In fact this type of research stretches back to the EyeToy ([1],[2] and a few more besides) proving that playing a physically immersive game offers a significant improvement in motor function in recovery from stroke.

Now, we're seeing the emergence of surgical training tools, following work that showed a warm-up on the Wii improved surgical performance. So, what else do we have to build on with the Wii?

Well, there's the WiiFit board (essentially a low-cost, low-fidelity force platform) for starters: could we see balance based rehab "games" improve recovery from stroke or help knee osteoarthritis patients? The hand held controllers provides a very obvious interaction tool, but they could be (and are being!) strapped to other limbs for feedback of full body motion.

One of our goals at the EMHD is to encourage the application of lower cost technologies suited to a specific purpose so they can be successfully deployed to more centres and more patients at a fraction of the cost of fewer high cost systems that are available to a select few. (You may think this is at odds with my job at Vicon but it isn't: we could be selling products in the future to fit these requirements and making a happy income form it).

Who knows, maybe you'll be stepping on the WiiFit in a few years if you have a physio following a knee injury...

1 comment:

  1. Following a bit more digging, here's some news from Seacroft hospital in Leeds, where their physiotherapy department is using the Wii Fit to help amputees learn to balance on their new prosthetic limbs!