Institute Collaborates with Kinect-Based System for Physical Therapy

Institute Collaborates with Kinect-Based System for Physical Therapy

In a nifty display of healthcare innovation, the nonprofit West Health Institute says today it has developed a prototype system that uses the Microsoft Kinect motion sensing system to help physical therapy patients carry out their exercise regimen.

The San Diego-based medical research organization says it also plans to collaborate with the Naval Medical Center of San Diego on clinical research studies, using the prototype system to help wounded warriors and other patients by enabling therapists to schedule their rehab sessions and to monitor their progress.

A similar project was demonstrated earlier this summer at Microsoft’s Kinect Accelerator program, a three-month bootcamp organized by the Redmond, WA, software giant and TechStars, the startup accelerator based in Boulder, CO, that has expanded to Seattle, New York, and Boston. Among the startups prominently featured in a Microsoft blog about its Kinect Demo Day was Jintronix, a Canadian startup developing technology for the Kinect platform that is “intended to transform physical therapy and in-home rehabilitation.”

San Diego’s West Health Institute says its prototype, dubbed the Reflexion Rehabilitation Measurement Tool (RMT), can help physical therapists and doctors ensure that patients adhere to prescribed therapy, and that they are doing their exercises properly. The system provides interactive feedback and relevant medical information during physical therapy sessions.

In a statement released today by the institute, co-inventor and Reflexion project leader Spencer Hutchins says, “The biggest problem with physical therapy is patients not doing enough of it or not doing it properly.” By sensing and mapping patients’ motions, Hutchins says the RMT can “measure progress in a fun way that could potentially help patients heal faster.”

The clinical studies are intended to measure the usability, adherence to therapy, and eventually, the clinical outcomes of using Reflexion’s interactive RMT. The work also could help improve the Naval hospital’s programs to rehabilitate wounded warriors. Compliance is a major issue, with patients often not doing their exercises correctly, or not doing them at all.

The RMT uses a Kinect motion camera (developed for use with the Xbox 360 video game console) and a Windows 7 personal computer. An institute spokesman says the system could eventually help therapists monitor their patients remotely. RMT would be a prescribed software application for helping patients to recover from musculoskeletal injuries, back pain, arthritis, and other ailments.

The institute says such conditions, known collectively as musculoskeletal diseases and disorders, cost Americans as much as $127 billion a year in direct healthcare costs. In a statement today, Dr. Ravi Komatireddy, co-inventor of the technology, a visiting fellow with the West Health Institute, and a clinical scholar with Scripps Translational Science Institute, says the West Health Institute is “trying to bring the best platforms from consumer technology and use them for therapeutic, validated clinical tools that can lower the cost of health care.”

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