Health

They investigate a virtual rehabilitation therapy for spinal cord injuries

The National Hospital for Paraplegics, in Toledo, and the University of Castilla-La Mancha (UCLM) are working on the development of a platform based on virtual reality (VR) to rehabilitate the upper limbs of patients with cervical spinal cord injury.

The project, which is called ‘Rehab-Immersive’ and is financed by the Ministry of Science and Innovation, through the R&D Projects Research Challenges program, is being developed by the Biomechanics and Technical Aid Unit of the Hospital for Paraplegics, and by the AIR group of the School Superior of Informatics of the UCLM, the Ministry of Health reported this Saturday in a press release.

It has also indicated that researchers are working on the development of a virtual reality based cloud platform intended for the rehabilitation of the upper limbs of certain patients with cervical spinal cord injury.

Is based on the VR implementation as a tool that has high potential in the context of rehabilitation after neurological conditions and in innovating by applying immersive virtual therapies adapted to the rehabilitation needs of patients with cervical spinal cord injury, in a personalized way and focused on the recovery of mobility of arms and hands.

The researcher at the UCLM Higher School of Informatics, Vanesa Herrera Tirado, explained that in the early phases of the project, the functional core of the platform has been designed and developed, which includes the interaction mechanisms between patients and virtual environmentsas well as the measurement and analysis of kinematics.

The core of the software contemplates the personalized physical limitations of each patient for the creation of adapted virtual environments, in order to adapt the rehabilitation exercises to each particular case, added the researcher from the University of Castilla-La Mancha.

Strategic line of innovation

In turn, Dr. Ana de los Reyes, the person in charge of the project at the National Hospital for Paraplegics, explained that this line of action was detected in this hospital center as a direction of progress in the digitization of therapies that serve as a complement to current therapies.

For this reason, from the Occupational Therapy Service of the hospital together with the Rehabilitation Service, the ‘Reavito’ program was launched, which among other technologies uses glasses virtual reality ‘Oculus Quest 2’with apps available for you to use.

Rehab-Immersive has already made it possible to obtain significant advances in the improvement of hand tracking through the glasses ‘Oculus Quest 2’ and work on the detection and recognition of different clamps and forms of grip for handling objects. In addition, work is being done on the proposal for immersive virtual content adapted to the therapeutic objectives, including the digitization of a clinical test called ‘Box and Block’currently available.

The first tests carried out on patients with cervical spinal cord injury have been satisfactory, pointed out Dr. De los Reyes, although she has warned that it must be taken into account that these virtual devices and technologies have emerged with a recreational and leisure objective.

Therefore, “we have a long way to go to carry out an adequate clinical application and it is up to us to determine the population that can benefit from this therapy based on the level and severity of the lesion”, added the person in charge of the project at the Hospital for Paraplegics.

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Subsequently, once part of the core of the platform has been developed, which facilitates the adapted interaction of patients with real environments, in the next phases it is intended to develop and integrate various VR-based applications for the rehabilitation of the upper limbs, Dr. Javier Albusac has advanced. , from the UCLM Higher School of Informatics.

The integration of the platform in the cloud for its distributed use and a technical, functional and usability evaluation of the entire platform will also be undertaken in the next phases, commented Albusac.

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