The UF Clinical and Translation Sciences Institute Funds Interactive Rehabilitation Environment
The UF Clinical and Translation Sciences Institute awards a $7,500 grant to support a pilot project for promoting walking recovery and enhancing the sensory input in kids with spinal cord injuries. Digital Worlds Professor Angelos Barmpoutis is participating as a co-investigator in this project along with other professors from the UF departments of Neuroscience and Physical Therapy. The goal of this collaborative team, lead by Dr. Emily J. Fox, is the development of a game-type environment to motivate disabled kids to walk.
The incorporation of interactive games and virtual reality (VR) is an innovative approach for making rehabilitation more engaging. Game technology motivates children, promotes practice, and performance of specific motor skills. Although games have demonstrated therapeutic effects when applied to children with neurological injuries, most games are not designed with consideration to motor impairments or for use in the LT environment. Therefore, the long-term objective in this project is to develop interactive gaming technology for the advancement of locomotor training interventions for children with neurological injuries. This project is the first phase in meeting this objective and will result in the development of a technical game prototype. A collaborative multidisciplinary team has been formed with expertise in basic neuroscience, rehabilitation, computer science, and game development. Focus groups of 8 children with SCI and CP, along with their caregivers and clinicians (Physical Therapists, Physiatrists) will be formed. Feedback from these groups will be incorporated into the team’s development of a game-design document. Using an iterative game development approach, a game software prototype will be developed and optimized for use with LT. Recently- released PrimeSense™ technology that allows for interactive controller-free play will be used and interfaced with the game prototype. Development of this game prototype and pilot data from its use will lead to a competitive NIH grant application. Moreover, the combined application of basic science, rehabilitation, and game-technology has a high likelihood of enhancing walking rehabilitation approaches for children with neurological injuries.