Kinect, Microsoft’s motion-sensing technology could make stroke rehabilitation more successful and more fun.
Researchers have been working in partnerships 7,000 miles apart in order to help stroke victims recover their motor skills faster by using Microsoft’s Kinect motion-sensing system.
A partnership between Seoul National University and Microsoft Research Asia revealed their laboratory project Stroke Recovery with Kinect. Almost at the same time Jintronix a startup medical technology company based in Montreal and Seattle announced a closed beta program for the Jintronix Rehabilitation System, which they have been developing for three years.
Both research teams built their systems upon the idea that using games can make the rehabilitation process less tedious and more fun. If the long and repetitive exercises that are required to rewire the brain after a stroke are more fun then people are more likely to stick with them in the long run.
Surprisingly the two teams who were working on the development of two similar systems had no knowledge of each others existence. Microsoft Research’s Miran Lee said to Information Week that it is “a great example of how a grand societal challenge can find the greatest minds working on a similar solution,”.
Rehabilitation for stroke In the East
The academic project by Microsoft started after a researcher from Seoul National University, Nam-Jong Paik came up with the idea to create a rehabilitation system for stroke victims which would be used at home.
The professor and his colleagues visited Microsoft Research in Beijing to see how motion-sensing technology was used in a broad range of applications for healthcare.
He teamed up with Microsoft’s Miran Lee and her team of researchers to develop Stroke Recovery with Kinect.
Their project is currently at the research stage and the creators say that it is too early to set a date for commercial availability as the team are still refining and enhancing the prototype. Lee has said that the system will be ready for clinical trials in the next couple of years with acute hemiparetic stroke patients which leaves people paralysed on one side of their body. The clinical trials will take place at the Seoul National Bundang Hospital.
The trials will “investigate the impact and cost effectiveness of Stroke Recovery with Kinect in a hospital setting and the feasibility and efficacy in a real home setting,” Lee said to InformationWeek.
In the future the team will develop social features which will allow patients to connect with each other for emotional support and encouragement during their rehabilitation. It will also be a way for doctors to communicate with the patients and monitor their progress.
Rehabilitation for stroke in the West
Justin Tan, CEO of Jintronix came up with the idea for the Rehabilitation System when his father suffered a stroke in 2003. Tan helped his father in his long rehab which made him determined him to find a technology that could improve this slow process.
The Jintronix Rehabilitation System is made up of two pieces of software: JRS Wave, which in conjunction with Microsoft Kinect is run on patient’s personal computer, and JRS Portal which is a web application that allows doctors to monitor the progress.
Jintronix’s system is further along in the development process than Microsoft’s. It is already being beta tested in 5 countries with 150 patients participating at 60 hospitals and clinics.
Other medical uses
The Kinect technology has many other potential medical uses. Microsoft Research are currently working on two projects one to improve diagnostics for brain tumors and a real-time translation between signal language and spoken language.
About Pathway Software
Pathway Software (www.pathwaysoftware.com) specialises in the design and development of patient information systems for Allied Health professionals.
Its flagship product, Therapy Manager, is an Electronic Patient Record (EPR) system specifically designed for Therapy Services to provide decision makers with the ability to track and manage clinical activity and analyse cost of care by patient, episode or service. The system also demonstrably reduces administration time and the costs of managing Therapy Services.