Xbox Kinect to help stroke patients recover

The University of Southampton is using Xbox games consoles to help stroke patients recover their manual agility at home.

Researchers at the university, in collaboration with Roke Manor Research, are using the Xbox Kinect technology.

Although the console currently works by monitoring whole limb movements,  the team are narrowing this down specifically to focus on hand joint movement.

To do this they have created an algorithm that tracks and measures hand joint angles and the fine dexterity of individual finger movements.

They will then use this program to capture data of stroke patients who follow exercises on a TV screen, which will not only encourage patients to do more regular and precise movements, but also feed back to therapists.

The researchers have said that this will help therapists continually monitor progress, reducing the need for frequent hospital visits. It is predicted that around £2.5 billion is spent on the care and rehabilitation of stroke patients by the UK health and social care system each year.

This new system has been developed to complement the home-based physiotherapy care already offered to patients in the UK.

It follows a recent Stroke Association report which stated that stroke survivors are being denied the chance to make their best recovery because of a lack of post-hospital care.

The researchers already have plans to create a series of computer games to make the rehabilitation process more interesting for the patient. The games will adapt to each individual’s ability and help motivate them to reach rehabilitation goals by feeding back higher scores if their joint movements improve.