Physical therapy is something that no ones wants to go through, and when we do go through it most of us are not very good at doing our exercises at home. I know I was never very consistent when I had to do it, and that probably hindered my progress more than I would like to admit. The reality is that the exercises are often difficult to understand from a blurry printout that has been copied a couple of hundred times. Even if you do understand them, they are usually pretty boring and you just stop doing them after awhile.
Combining gaming and exercise is not really a new concept, but it is rapidly growing in popularity. It is along those same lines that New Media Medicine at the MIT Media Lab is trying to improve the effectiveness of physical therapy. Oovit PT is a virtual rehabilitation system that helps make physical therapy for enjoyable, and also more effective.
This video gives a short demonstration of how it works:
Oovit PT was originally designed to work with the Wii remote, but has since been modified to work with wockets which are much smaller. The smaller size encourages users to participate longer, as well as being able to track other activity and motion throughout the person’s day. This information can be used to help assess the effectiveness of the physical therapy, as well as to help recognize activities that may be harming the patient’s progress. It is even reasonable to think that doctors could give real-time feedback to their patients through cell phones.
It is also being developed as a CollaboRhythm plug-in to make physical therapy even more interactive. This would allow the doctor to monitor progress, make recommendations, and provide social support.
Motion sensing devices are becoming more and more useful in the healthcare industry, and the sky really is the limit when it comes to their application. I genuinely feel like there is nothing out of reach if we simply get the right minds working on it.