Researchers from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) develop video games for the neuro-rehabilitation of people who have been affected in their upper motor (arms and hands) by a cerebral vascular event (CVS), the first cause of acquired disability in older adults .
The goal of the members of the Laboratory of Research and Development of Interactive Applications for Neuro-Rehabilitation (LANR), of the Institute of Cellular Physiology (IFC), is for those affected to initiate their therapy as early as possible, as often as possible. video games that allow them to do their exercises in virtual environments and without leaving their home.
At the National Copyright Institute, eight interactive applications have already been registered, and specialists participate in a research protocol with the National Institute of Neurology and Neurosurgery to test games with patients, who receive 20 minutes of traditional therapy and 40 minutes of therapy. video game. The study will last six months and it will be checked if there was improvement, said Yoás Saimon Ramírez Graullera, technical head of the LANR.
In Brain Week 2019, organized at the IFC, he explained that the development of software and hardware allows, for example, to rehabilitate the muscular strength of the shoulder, elbow and wrist; improve fine motor skills of the fingers of the hand, or eye-hand coordination.
These developments are focused on supporting rehabilitation and are not intended to replace traditional therapy; they would be a complement that provides patients with some independence, “that they do not have to go to clinics or clinics to receive their therapies”.
The Unity engine and several sensors, ergonomic mice, flyers and virtual reality viewers were used to create the video games “. Yoás Ramírez detailed that a data glove was created to detect when the thumb makes contact with another finger, in case it is required to rehabilitate the fine motor of the hand; and an ergonomic mouse with which the patient must open his hand as much as possible.
Videogames have three interfaces: for the clinic, for the therapists (who can review the progress of the patients and program personalized routines), and for the patient. All were created in conjunction with a neuro-rehabilitation specialist
Among the games developed in the LANR, are the “Topo-crisis”, where the patient must hit the mole before it is hidden, to rehabilitate the muscular strength of the shoulder, elbow and wrist, as well as the range of flexibility in the horizontal plane.
In another, the patient assumes the role of a soccer goalkeeper and tries to stop as many penalties as possible, to recover the range of joint mobility and muscular strength of the shoulder.
There are also games for devices with touch screens. By means of movements from top to bottom, and from left to right, it is intended to help the person to write again, or to rehabilitate the visual-motor system and eye-hand coordination.
One more is the “sandwichmania”, which uses the data glove; a finger is associated with an ingredient and the patient must touch with each one to prepare his sandwich. Thus, it is expected to improve the fine motor skills of the fingers.
Some videogames are still in the prototype stage, but they are expected to be taken to health institutions, public and private, and to specialists, for the benefit of patients, Ramírez Graullera finished.