Rehabilitation therapy could soon get less cumbersome with software engineers having turned tedious physical rehabilitation exercises into a video game. "We need to come up with solutions to get patients motivated to get better. No one likes treatment, but if we can make it in a way where people don't think it is cumbersome they will get better faster and save costs," said Cosmin Mihaiu, lead engineer, who demonstrated the game on Thursday at the prestigious TED Conference in Vancouver.
Mihaiu and colleagues devised the software application to work with physical therapists to customize motion-control games to reward patients for doing their prescribed movements. The system, which is called Mira (Medical Interactive Recovery Assistant), is currently designed for play offline in clinics, and can be played on the motion-sensing video game platform Kinect for Micosoft's Xbox.
The team of software engineers plan to create an online version of the game that people could use at home, with performance data shared with therapists. Mihaiu said, "We don't want to replace the physical therapists. We want to develop a digital pill that can be prescribed to help the patient get better."
At present, Mira is being tried in clinics in Britain and Romania, with an annual subscription price of several thousand dollars.