Teaching Kids to Walk using Videogames

April 20, 2011 at 8:00 pm Leave a comment

There is a great need for new technology in the medical field.  The demand for engineers and software developers in medicine is growing.  Below I will talk about a prime example of the type of technology that is being developed for use in the medical field.

Certain medical conditions can prevent individuals from being able to walk, including: cerebral palsy, spinal bifida, and amputations.  These are some of the medical problems that plague children at Shriner’s hospital.  The hospital is always looking for new methods of treatment for their patients.  What they are most interested in are treatments that are engaging for children.  The Motion Analysis Laboratory asked some Rice University undergrads to help them develop a game system that would make physical therapy fun for children with disabilities that affect their balance/ ability to walk.

The recently unveiled project called the Equiliberator uses  uses a series of Wii balance boards that are situated between a pari of pressure sensitive handrails.  The platform uses bluetooth to communicate to a computer the patient’s movements along the path.  The software portion of the system includes a monster-slaying game where the children are asked to step of certain parts of the path in order to destroy their enemies.

The game starts out easy and progresses to harder levels as the balance and coordination of the child increases.  The child gains points while playing the game which helps encourage them to keep doing better.  The hand-rail is there to help the child when they need it, but the overall goal is for the child to walk with as little help as possible.  The game can detect when a child is using these handrails for support.

Please watch the video here to learn more about the project from the designers.

Now don’t forget to go to Blackboard and take the quiz!

Just for reference, I found the original article here.

~Megan

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