Technology used in computer games and 3D movies could help improve rehabilitation of stroke patients

3D film technology helps stroke patients

Swedish researchers have used motion capture technology to analyse movements of stroke patients to help improve their rehabilitation.

The team from the University of Gothenburg studied movements of about 100 patients – both healthy and those recovering from stroke – using the same technology used to convert people’s movements into computer animations. The team believes the method, famously used in the movie Avatar, allows for in depth understanding of the motion-related processes and could provide physicians with insights needed to help stroke patients overcome their impairments.

"Computer technology provides better and more objective documentation of the problem in terms of the everyday life of the patient than what human observation can provide,” said Margit Alt Murphy, a PhD researcher at the University of Gothenburg.

“With 3D technology, we can measure a patient's movements in terms of numbers, which means that small changes in the motion pattern can be detected and can be fed back to the patient in a clear manner."

For the purposes of the study, the researchers attached small, round reflex balls to the arms, trunk and head of the test subjects. The subjects where then asked to perform simple tasks, such as drinking from a glass. The action was recorded by high speed infrared cameras. The infrared signal is reflected by the reflex balls and transmitted into a computer where a 3D image is created.

"With 3D animation, we can measure the joint angle, speed and smoothness of the arm motion, as well as which compensating motion patterns the stroke patient is using,” Alt Murphy explained. “This gives us a measurement for the motion that we can compare with an optimal arm motion in a healthy person.”

The team hopes the technology could help enhance rehabilitation programmes, allowing patients to regain control over their bodies and achieve better results in a shorter period of time.

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