FEATHERS (Functional Engagement in Assisted Therapy through Exercise Robotics)
Stroke rehabilitation professionals acknowledge that about half of upper limb functional recovery after stroke is spontaneous. Any remaining recovery results from intensive, repetitive therapy over months of time, stimulating neuroplastic changes in the brain’s motor control pathways. From a human perspective, this is painful, frustrating and hard work. Sustaining a treatment over months requires significant doses of motivation and funding. Health plans do not provide sufficient coverage; motivation is highly dependent on a person’s support network and inner drive, and is often not adequately tapped.
In this project, we developed a motion tracking and a social networking application for the upper limb rehabilitation of stroke survivors and teenagers with cerebral palsy. The project aimed to improve the engagement of clients during therapy by using video games (PlayStation Move) and a social media platform (Facebook). The applications allowed users to control a cursor on a personal computer through bimanual motions, and to interact with their peers and therapists through social media.