Virtual Reality Applied Dr. Thomas Schueler / Software Developer and Researcher


Research Visit @ICT

I am back home from my research visit at University of Southern California's Institute of Creative Technology. I spent the past 3 month at the institute working with the medVR motor rehab lab. Many thanks for the opportunity to Belinda Lange and her team, Rachel Proffitt, Panagiotis Apostollelis, Kevin Chang, Eric McConnell, Kevin Feeley, Skip Rizzo and Sebastian K├Ânig.

At ICT I worked on my phd-project "Therapeutic Presence". I worked on the software development and came up with 3 different artistic and geometric visualizations of patient's movement. I included playback and analysis of an audio-stream that feeds back to the visualizations and provides for a more engaging experience. The software tracks the movement of patients using the Microsoft Kinect camera. A mirror therapy mode is implemented for neurologic patients mirroring the patient's healthy upper limb to the affected side. The software is written in Java and uses Processing for the visualizations. I separated the tracking of the skeleton and some basic calculations that are useful for medical applications into a middleware library that is available for download on my github site. The attached image shows a slightly outdated version of the software as demo'ed in the lab on an early feedback session.

With the resulting prototype I visited three different rehabilitation centers in Los Angeles and tested its application with 18 patients (stroke, brain injury, spinal coord injury). The evaluation revealed applicability as well as limits of the software. From the stroke and brain injury patients the feedback was positive and the test session was successful. The mirror therapy mode seemed to serve its purpose, though a more structured evaluation needs to be done to prove this. The clinicians made use of the visual feedback and commented positive. I haven't finished the analysis of the test sessions, but the results so far are promising.

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