Adapting technologies to physical rehabilitation

New technologies applied to medicine and, especially, to physical rehabilitation. This issue has been growing interest worldwide and, as a result, several activities have been emerging with the goal of fostering the debate among professionals from these areas. Recently, and as a consequence of its experience in adapting new technologies to the needs of the population and promoting the quality of life of citizens, Fraunhofer Portugal AICOS has participated in two of such events, both held last May.

On the 20th of May, within the Pervasive Health 2014 conference, in Oldenburg (Germany), the 2nd Patient Rehabilitation Research Techniques Workshop took place. Also, and aimed at physical therapists, engineers, computer engineers and other professionals with involvement in the area of rehabilitation, the III Workshop on Electronic Health Record in Physiotherapy was held with the goal of identifying the needs, requirements and barriers related to the adoption of Electronic Health Record in Physiotherapy.

In representation of Fraunhofer Portugal AICOS, the senior researcher António Santos participated in both of these workshops and presented the first results of two of our ongoing projects - Kinteract and SmartRehab – as examples of the use of new technologies for physical rehabilitation. Both are included in the ExerGames project, which is part of the Fall Competence Center (FCC). The development of these kind of solutions focuses on the improvement of physical activity detection, needed to achieve new features in rehabilitation applications.

Kinteract and SmartRehab are applications which use affordable motion sensing technologies (Smartphone, Kinect, Leap Motion, Orbotix Sphero, etc.) for tracking all types of body movements, including gestures and postures. The project was designed with a special care on keeping pace with the evolving technologies in this area and allows an easy integration of newly available devices. Currently, the solution is focused on virtual reality rehabilitation and therapy, using game concepts and targeting on elderly people and people who suffered strokes or other corticospinal injuries. The biggest advantage of the outcome of this project is that it will allow a close monitoring of the movements, angles, etc., sharing them with the therapist who can then track and evaluate the progress of the patient.

Fraunhofer Portugal AICOS has been developing the physical rehabilitation related projects in cooperation with the Centro de Reabilitação Profissional de Gaia (CRPG), which has proven to be extremely positive in providing new ideas, enabling the definition of requirements related to rehabilitation and the implementation of tests and validations with real users.