Impact of cerebral palsy on motor skills
A TCS’ Rapid Labs team built a wearable Virtual Rehabilitation (VHab) solution to improve physiotherapy experience for children with locomotor disabilities to support their independent movement.
The solution has made use of assistive technologies such as virtual reality (VR), motion sensing, and gesture analysis to enhance treatment in the healthcare sector.
Census 2011 revealed that nearly 26.8 million people in India suffered from some form of disability; and a significant percentage of persons with disability (PWDs) suffer from locomotor disabilities, with their ability to move independently severely impacted.
One such condition is cerebral palsy (CP), where muscle development and motion is affected. Another condition, autism—a neuro-developmental disorder affecting children's communication, socialization, and cognition—also has a significant impact on the same, resulting in a large percentage of children suffering from it being excluded from mainstream activities.
To retain a degree of independence and control, children with autism and CP require regular physiotherapy and the use of physical aids. Growth in digital technologies has meant that this field is ripe for disruption.
Using assistive technologies for physiotherapy
At the TCS Innovation Lab in Thiruvananthapuram, the capital of the Indian state of Kerala, researchers combined VR with motion sensors and gesture analysis to create a gamified solution for PWDs—VHab.
Working with Kochi-based NGO Adarsh Rehabilitation Centre, the Lab created personalized simulated environments on-screen that children with autism or CP can explore through motion sensors as they carry out their physiotherapy regimen.
With exercise no longer boring or a chore, the kids are motivated to complete their physiotherapy regimens every day. This is critical for their future since early intervention is the best way to preserve muscle control.
Why gamification works
Gamification has been key in making this solution work since watching their ‘avatars’ explore detailed environments on-screen motivates children to complete their individual exercise routines.
As the children progress through different difficulty levels of physical therapy, their avatars keep racking up points. Researchers have observed that the children now love to compete with each other and keep track of their respective scores.
Behind this powerful transformation are digital technologies that feed disruption. Analytics from the games—and the motion sensors—are helping both the children and their doctors keep track of their overall development. Integration with brain-computer interface systems makes this process simple and unobtrusive.