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Wii-based platform could help stroke victims recover at home

Gaming

WeHab is a new platform from the University of Notre Dame that promises to turn Nintendo gaming technology into a customizable in-home recovery tool.

Stroke is the number one cause of long-term disability in the United States, and most victims face a long road of therapy to try to regain their balance. Nintendo’s Wii games have already been used for some time toward this end, but WeHab — a new platform from the University of Notre Dame — promises to turn the gaming technology into a customizable in-home recovery tool. While standard Wii games tend to be too difficult for recovering stroke patients, the WeHab system incorporates a number of features that make it better suited for therapeutic use. Within the hospital, therapists can use the system’s Nintendo Wii balance boards and web cameras to lead patients through customized rehabilitation exercises and feed the results into an accompanying software program, according to a Fast Company report. There data are logged, analyzed and visualized on a large monitor so that patients can see their own progress and adjust their posture accordingly. Ultimately, the Notre Dame team hopes to adapt the system for independent use at home as well. In that setting, the WeHab gets plugged into the patient’s TV, where it also connects to the internet. Then, the patient can perform balance therapy as the therapist looks on virtually and offers feedback via video chat. Both patients and therapists can see the resulting data in real time, and “homework therapy” can be assigned, with results shared automatically each day. An academic paper on the Notre Dame site explains the premise in more detail; the video below demonstrates the system in action: WeHab has already undergone pilot testing at the Wound Care center at Memorial Hospital in South Bend, Ind., with promising results. Further expansion is planned, including incorporation of auditory feedback. Medical and tech entrepreneurs: one to get involved in? Spotted by: Murtaza Patel

Email: mkenned7@nd.edu

Website: www.nd.edu/~ame/index.html

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