The product is patented and aims to be commercialized. It has been successfully tested at the National Institutes of Pediatrics, Neurology and Neurosurgery.
Artificial intelligence, virtual worlds and interaction with video games, are the elements of a new therapy designed by several Mexican institutions to help people who have had a stroke and children with cerebral palsy to recover mobility of their upper extremities quickly.
The purpose of developing the computational system called Gesture Therapy (Terapia de Gestos) is to offer a low cost and more effective alternative than traditional methods, said the research leader, Luis Enrique Sucar Succar, researcher at the National Institute of Astrophysics, Optics and Electronics (INAOE) in Mexico.
The technology has been proven clinically successful at the National Institute of Neurology and Neurosurgery (INNN) and Pediatrics (INP), it encompasses a computer with a webcam and a special handle with a color sphere and force sensors, which detects the exercises performed by the patient.
The idea is that a virtual agent instructs the patient to perform tasks through different games designed to exercise important parts of the arm for rehabilitation, such as the shoulder, elbow, wrist, fingers and using different types of movement as flexion, extension and pressing. This allows the patient to perform their rehabilitation at home, without the need for a therapist to be present at all time.
On the other hand, the virtual environments in which the person does the therapy simulate daily activities to give present a normal lifestyle . For example, some of these tasks are cleaning a window, painting a room, cooking an egg, grocery shopping, added Enrique Sucar, PhD in Computer Science from the Imperial College in Britain.
An important part of the system is based on artificial intelligence, since it is responsible for monitoring and evaluating user's performance, while he or she exercises as indicated by the virtual agent. With these results the difficulty level of the game is set, based on the movements recorded by the camera and pressure sensors of the handle, it increases or decreases the level of hardness.
The INAOE researcher, who is also an active member of the Mexico Academy of Engineering, said another utility of artificial intelligence is detection of "compensation" for the patient, which happens when he or she moves the whole body instead of just the affected arm.
While the visual tracking software analyzes images obtained from the camera, tracking the position of the hand in three space dimensions is performed. For this, a color ball at the side of the handle is used, its position estimated using computer vision techniques that combine color and texture information of the object.
The system maps the coordinates of the patient's hand in "real" space, and transfers them to the virtual space, where it interacts with an imaginary world, which is observed through the computer screen, Sucar Succar added.
The researcher, who is currently on a sabbatical stay in Italy, said that to achieve the development of Therapy Gestures collaboration of researchers and physicians at the from several institutes and universities were required.
The evaluation was carried out at the Rehabilitation Unit of the INNN where the results showed an improvement in the movement of the affected limb, increasing motivation and adherence to treatment.
Now, the next step is to simultaneously begin a series of clinical trials with about a hundred patients from various hospitals like INNN, the National Institute of Rehabilitation, the University Hospital of Puebla and CRIT (Children Rehabilitation Center) of the same federal entity; to provide the Therapy of Gestures as a commercial product.
Finally, the teacher in electrical engineering by Stanford University, added that he already has a patent in Mexico for the concept called "3D therapy system with monocular visual tracking for the rehabilitation of the upper limb in humans." (Agencia ID)
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