Recovery Rapids game uses Kinect sensor to aid patient rehabilitation

Sean Dudley
Sean Dudley
By Sean Dudley on 12 February 2015
Recovery Rapids game uses Kinect sensor to aid patient rehabilitation

A team at The Ohio State University has developed a therapeutic game to help aid constraint-induced movement therapy (CI therapy).

More than two million people in the US alone are unable to easily move their arm or hand on one side of their body due to the effects of things like strokes, brain injuries or cerebral palsy.

CI therapy can be used to discourage use of the unaffected arm and allow patients to focus on the weakened arm or hand to complete prescribed tasks.

With professional CI therapy treatments often expensive and lacking the intensity to make a lasting change for patients, a team at Ohio State University created Recovery Rapids, a home-based computer game where players control an onscreen kayaker and navigates its movements using their weaker arm or hand.

Recovery Rapids uses a Kinect sensor to capture body movements from users and replicate them onscreen, allowing them to carry out activities in the game such as paddling, navigating around barriers and picking bottles from the river.

The game’s original prototype used the Kinect for Windows sensor, which meant a special glove had to be worn by players to detect hand movements.

However the latest version of the game uses the improved technology of the Kinect v2 sensor, meaning the glove doesn’t need to be worn and thus lowering the cost of equipment for users.

“Detecting hand motion is very important to our product,” said David Maung, one of the Ohio State researchers. “With the original Kinect for Windows sensor, we had to use external hardware to capture finger motion and wrist rotation. The Kinect v2 sensor allowed us to eliminate this hardware, opening the door for an electronically downloadable product.”

A clinical trial has found that the game is having a positive effect on players, and one participant in the trail said: “It has the potential to develop self-motivation and self-determination better than any therapist or coach. The Recovery Rapids gaming system allows the participants to track their own progress as they compete against themselves. They can adjust the game to make it even more challenging as they reach new plateaus in their recovery.”

The team at Ohio State is now looking to get the game into the hands of rehabilitation patients and has set up a public benefit corporation, Games That Move You, to help make this a reality.

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