Belinda Lange, Chien-Yen Chang, Evan Suma, Bradley Newman, Skip Rizzo, Mark Bolas: “Development and Evaluation of Low Cost Game-Based Balance Rehabilitation Tool Using the Microsoft Kinect Sensor”

August 31, 2011 | Boston, MA

Speaker: Belinda Lange, Chien-Yen Chang, Evan Suma, Bradley Newman, Skip Rizzo, Mark Bolas
Host: 11th International Conference on Intelligent Virtual Agents (IVA 2011)

The use of the commercial video games as rehabilitation tools, such as the Nintendo® WiiFit™, has recently gained much interest in the physical therapy arena. Motion tracking controllers such as the Nintendo® Wiimote are not sensitive enough to accurately measure performance in all components of balance. Additionally, users can figure out how to “cheat” inaccurate trackers by performing minimal movement (e.g. wrist twisting a Wiimote instead of a full arm swing). Physical rehabilitation requires accurate and appropriate tracking and feedback of performance. To this end, we are developing applications that leverage recent advances in commercial video game technology to provide full-body control of animated virtual characters. A key component of our approach is the use of newly available low cost depth sensing camera technology that provides markerless full-body tracking on a conventional PC. This allows the user to puppet a virtual character on screen that directly represents their movements and pose in the real world. Using low cost depth sensing cameras (PrimeSense and Microsoft Kinect) and a flexible software framework, individuals can interact with game-based rehabilitation tools that are tailored to their individual therapy goals. Not only does our approach sense full-body motion with six degrees-of-freedom, but it does so without encumbering the user with tracking devices or markers. This allows more natural and intuitive interaction, without having to alter natural motor movements to accommodate the tracking hardware. The aim of this research was to develop and assess an interactive game-based rehabilitation tool for balance training of adults with neurological injury.