The Microsoft Kinect game revolutionizing rehab for stroke survivors

Microsoft’s Kinect motion tracking system has served up some great experiences for gamers, but the technology behind it has also given rise to innovations that are transforming lives.

As you may have read previously on Neowin, Kinect has proven to be an invaluable tool in helping stroke survivors. Last year, we reported on the remarkable efforts of a man who developed special software that enabled his mother to be able to send text messages using Kinect, after a stroke left her suffering with aphasia, a condition that severely impairs the brain’s ability to recognise and understand text. Earlier this year, we covered the pioneering research at a British university that aims to use Kinect to help stroke survivors recover from facial paralysis.

This week, researchers at Ohio State University’s (OSU) Wexner Medical Center revealed their own developments using the Microsoft device which, it is hoped, will revolutionize the rehabilitation process for hundreds of thousands of people.

A common effect of a stroke is hemiparesis, which can reduce the ability of individuals to move one side of their body, making the simplest everyday tasks – such as getting dressed and eating – incredibly difficult. America’s National Stroke Association says that this condition affects 325,000 people each year in the US alone, and the most effective treatment – known as constraint-induced movement therapy, or CI therapy – is only available to less than one percent of those who need it.

Lynne Gauthier, assistant professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation at OSU, explained: “Lack of access, transportation and cost are contributing barriers to CI therapy. To address this disparity, our team developed a 3D gaming system to deliver CI therapy to patients in their homes.”

The OSU team developed their own game, called Canyon Adventure, which incorporates elements of CI therapy while engaging participants in gameplay tasks, such as rowing down a river, fishing or even chasing falling parachutes containing valuable supplies. These tasks require the participant to perform high-repetition movements using the affected hand and arm; the less-affected hand is covered by a padded mitt for ten hours a day to promote use of – and improvements in – the other hand.

For those of us used to more engrossing and extreme gameplay experiences, Canyon Adventure may look rather tame by comparison, but as a means of engaging patients, it seems to be a remarkably effective tool. Gauthier noted that while playing the game, “patients have reported they have more motivation, time goes by quicker and the challenges are exciting and not so tedious.” Nancy Henckle, a stroke survivor who has been participating in the trials said: “It’s amazing. I get so caught up in the game, I forget how hard I’m working.”

Encouragingly, Gauthier says that the Kinect-based approach has actually proven “much more effective” than regular therapy. It is hoped that, with further research, the gaming therapy may also be extended to improve rehabilitation for patients with traumatic brain injuries, cerebral palsy and multiple sclerosis. 

Source: OSU Wexner Medical Center via Slashgear | image via OSU Multimedia Newsroom

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11 Comments

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for example MS and NSA having a constant live videofeed of people doing s.e.x on the couch in the living room.. in front of the kinect? Because MS promised they wont spy on you. And NSA has no built-in backdoor access to the xbox.. oh nooo, how silly I am...
In 10 years time, when all this stuff becomes normal life, lets get back to this topic again.

soder said,
for example MS and NSA having a constant live videofeed of people doing s.e.x on the couch in the living room.. in front of the kinect? Because MS promised they wont spy on you. And NSA has no built-in backdoor access to the xbox.. oh nooo, how silly I am...
In 10 years time, when all this stuff becomes normal life, lets get back to this topic again.

Oh yeah, just like your laptop camera is doing right now in your room, right?

soder said,
for example MS and NSA having a constant live videofeed of people doing s.e.x on the couch in the living room.. in front of the kinect? Because MS promised they wont spy on you. And NSA has no built-in backdoor access to the xbox.. oh nooo, how silly I am...
In 10 years time, when all this stuff becomes normal life, lets get back to this topic again.

Good job taking something positive and turning it into a pile of steaming turd with your stupidity.

soder said,
for example MS and NSA having a constant live videofeed of people doing s.e.x on the couch in the living room.. in front of the kinect? Because MS promised they wont spy on you. And NSA has no built-in backdoor access to the xbox.. oh nooo, how silly I am...
In 10 years time, when all this stuff becomes normal life, lets get back to this topic again.

What is cute about your statement, is that if you carry a smartphone, if they wanted, the NSA has already watched you have sex.

When it comes to spying, unless you have a lead lined room, with no networking, your life is not private. Go look up even good old RF tapping.

In 1997 I had a demonstration of CIA satellite technology that was just declassified as it was 'outdated'. Just by tasking the satellite, it could watch you in your living room and could create a 3D view of you sitting in your house in realtime.

It was mind blowing technology, especially when you consider it was the old stuff that was brought online in the late 70s. If you lookup documentaries from around 1998-2001, this technology was showcased on the Discovery channel.


The Kinect isn't exposing you to the world, the laws of physics already have if you are important enough for the NSA to want to see what you are doing.

Edited by Mobius Enigma, Nov 12 2013, 9:56am :

bladerunner82 said,
Kinect is an amazing product with so many possibilities...

And yet, so less practical than a good old controller for most tasks.

myxomatosis said,

And yet, so less practical than a good old controller for most tasks.

On a UI that was first designed for a controller.

Weird how that works, uh?

myxomatosis said,

And yet, so less practical than a good old controller for most tasks.

Mind you that there are two kind of Kinect out there, one for Xbox, and the other one for Windows. This Kinect is Kinect for Windows, and it is the one that is being used for medical and other industrial use.

RommelS said,

Mind you that there are two kind of Kinect out there, one for Xbox, and the other one for Windows. This Kinect is Kinect for Windows, and it is the one that is being used for medical and other industrial use.

Remember though, the reason the Kinect on Windows is being used is that the development tools are easier and there is a lot faster hardware processing power than was available on the XB360.

As the XB1 gets released, expect to see a lot these development project move over to the XB1, as it will be easy to develop for and provide enough processing power.

It also will work better in testing and deploying the new uses for the technology, as some of the Microsoft demonstration videos showcase, like being used in consumer access environments.

Mobius Enigma said,

Remember though, the reason the Kinect on Windows is being used is that the development tools are easier and there is a lot faster hardware processing power than was available on the XB360.

As the XB1 gets released, expect to see a lot these development project move over to the XB1, as it will be easy to develop for and provide enough processing power.

It also will work better in testing and deploying the new uses for the technology, as some of the Microsoft demonstration videos showcase, like being used in consumer access environments.

Well aware of it.