The Rehabilitation Games and Virtual Reality (ReGame VR) laboratory at Northeastern University is working on finding ways to integrate active video games and virtual reality technology into rehabilitation.
The Rehabilitation Games and Virtual Reality (ReGame VR) laboratory at Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts is exploring the ways to improve rehabilitation programs for children and adults with neuro-motor problems by integrating virtual reality and active gaming systems into therapy. The lab is dedicated to promoting evidence-based integration of these innovative interactive technologies to improve different aspects of rehabilitation, including balance, motor learning and functional mobility training.
The ReGame VR lab will use a range of commercial, rehabilitation-specific interactive gaming products to conduct research. One of these is the Stability and Balance Learning Environment (STABLE), a cutting-edge system developed by Motek Medical that supports training and assessment of stability and balance-related disorders. STABLE uses direct feedback in a VR environment, and the training and assessment applications available with it are based on proven therapeutic concepts. The system is used to support the recovery of neurological and orthopaedic patients, seniors, and patients with musculoskeletal problems. It immerses patients in virtual environments and game-play to train their balance and postural stability, while four motion-capture cameras collect 3D motion data, allowing therapists to obtain quantitative and objective data.
The ReGame VR lab is also developing brand new rehabilitation equipment and tools. The students in the lab are currently working on the FITBoard (Fun, Interactive Therapy Board), a media controller that will be used in the therapy of children with disabilities, and a sensor-enabled smartphone app that measures energy expenditure and tracks arm movement and self-reported motivation during game play, also designed for children with disabilities, for home-based video game play.
Active games that use VR technology are popular tools for physical therapy interventions for children with cerebral palsy and other disabilities because virtual worlds and characters easily motivate children to keep performing repetitive arm movements. The games can also be used to facilitate skill acquisition and enhance learning. To this effect, the lab is currently conducting a study to determine the impact of engagement and task difficulty level on skill acquisition and another research on the impact of narrative and regular feedback provided to children with cerebral palsy in a virtual environment during motor skill learning.
The ReGame VR lab is looking to collaborate with game developers and ultimately aims to use the insights gained from research to build a base of knowledge and clinically relevant evidence in the field of virtual rehabilitation to help facilitate the integration of VR and gaming technologies into clinical practice.