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Krisaf and Biart Company have created a virtual environment for the rehabilitation of children with neurological motor impairments

Krisaf (www.krisaf.com) and Biart Company (www.biart7.com) are happy to announce the completion of their joint project – a virtual reality-based training simulator designed for the physical rehabilitation of children afflicted with cerebral palsy.

The rehabilitation process is based on the concept of effective patient motivation through immersion in a virtual 3D marine game environment. This is the first ever highly realistic computer environment available for children with motor impairments.

Children get the opportunity to engage in activities typical for their healthier peers: explore the underwater world, perform different tasks, and take pictures while searching for treasures as well as compete in mini-games with dolphins, manta rays, and turtles. They can do all that completely independently thanks to the unique controller designed by the Krisaf Company!

The virtual environment is based on the Depth Hunter game developed by the Biart Company. The company has modified the original product a great deal by utilizing the new version of the biEngine programming technology.

At this time, the project is being executed by four teams from four different cities: Tyumen, Perm, Kazan and Houston, TX. The project is endorsed by the Tyumen Region government; just recently, it was presented to the Prime Minister of Russia Dmitry Medvedev and the President of the Republic of Tatarstan Rustam Minnikhanov who praised it highly. The recently established hardware technology park “Navigator Campus” has invested in the project.

How the training simulator works

The training simulator is designed to imitate the state of a person immersed in water. The patient’s weight is balanced by a special pneumatic system. Being in a state of neutral equilibrium, the patient can perform movements independently regardless of his/her low strength and lack of sufficient coordination.

The training simulator’s action is based on using wavelike movements resembling the movements of a dolphin. The principle of balancing the patient’s body on elastic suspension supports and the use of wavelike simulated movements is not new; it was described and implemented back in the 1970s. L.D. Potekhin, MD, head of the Department of Medical and Social Rehabilitation in the State Institute for Physicians Postgraduate Training and a talented physician-innovator specializing in the rehabilitation of patients with spinal cord injuries considered these motor stereotypes primary in the motor development – we possess them from birth, and, evidently, they are genetically programmed in us.

The rehabilitation process on the training simulator is automated; therefore, using it lowers the medical staff’s workload. The instructor’s task in that case is to position the patient properly, attach the cuffs, and enable the child to make active movements with the help of two interconnected programs – one operating the controls and pneumatic mechanism, the other providing the virtual environment.

Controls Specifics

The adapted controls became possible thanks to the work of the Krisaf Company’s engineers who have developed a wireless controller powered by the Bluetooth low energy transmission technology, with built-in accelerometers and gyroscopes. The controller is attached to the patient’s body and used to let the avatar (character) navigate the virtual environment. In addition, the controller recognizes the patient’s gestures, and each gesture has a corresponding action in the virtual world. The intuitive operation immerses the patient in the virtual reality.

The indisputable advantage of this training simulator in comparison to other similar devices is the ability to use it at the early stages of recuperation. The first training simulators are expected to be set up in specialized rehabilitation centers in Europe and Russia as well as in large state-run and private clinics as early as 2014.