IoT for Therapy and Rehabilitation

Strokes affect around 700,000 Americans annually, and cerebral palsy (CP) affects 17 million people. These diseases cause upper limb impairments in roughly 40 to 50 percent of the victims. In order to combat the issues brought upon by these debilitating conditions, upper limb rehabilitation is needed. However, rehabilitation can be very tedious; and as a result, patients sometimes give up on the rehabilitation because they do not have the motivation to go through with it. As a result, those who suffer from debilitating diseases lack the quality of life that they once had.

The research objective of this project is to help improve the quality of life for the people afflicted with these diseases using augmented reality and virtual reality games. The project involved computer and electrical engineering students working along with occupational therapy students to create an interface for these patients to perform their rehabilitation in a new and more motivating/entertaining environment.

The GATOR project has evolved from a simple suite of games that use a webcam and a computer, to more sophisticated offerings utilizing augmented reality, virtual reality, Kinect sensors and more recently the Leap motion controller. GATOR features games and activities that provide positive reinforcement as well as an enjoyable experience for the patient. Developed with JavaScript, HTML5, the suite of games use 2D and 3D game play to give patients the ability to exercise their limbs in an XY plane as well as an XYZ plane. The Leap Motion controller is able to track the user’s hand movement in the X, Y, and Z planes as well as gestures that can interpret grabbing and pointing among others. The entire framework ultimately enables low-cost in-home rehabilitation, drastically reducing the cost for therapy. Recent efforts have focused on integrating the use of virtual reality to provide a more immersive, in-home rehabilitation experience.