Kessler Foundation partners with Virtualware to develop innovative stroke treatment
Kessler Foundation, a leader in rehabilitation research, has partnered with Virtualware, an international leader in immersive and interactive technologies, to create a virtual reality (VR) based treatment for spatial neglect, the most common spatial deficit after stroke. The treatment called VR-SRT System, which will be under direction of Peii Chen, PhD, and Denise Krch, PhD, is an intervention that enhances therapy participation through a safe, interactive, and game-like VR environment. The flexibility of the VR-SRT System allows the tool to be implemented in various clinical settings and the home.
Spatial neglect is a hidden disability among stroke survivors, disrupting basic self-care activities and impairing postural balance, reading ability, and navigation. Spatial neglect hinders rehabilitation outcomes and recovery, as evidenced by prolonged hospitalization and an increased risk for falls and injuries. This unique VR intervention leverages three-dimensional (3D) virtual environments for immersive training scenarios to maximize improvement of health and function in stroke survivors with spatial neglect.
“The VR-SRT System is based on established theories of neurorehabilitation approaches for spatial neglect. Making the treatment game-like will improve patient engagement and motivate the patients to complete treatment regime while receiving rehabilitative benefits,” noted Dr. Peii Chen, senior research scientist in Stroke Rehabilitation Research at Kessler Foundation.
“As VR hardware and software become more affordable and accessible, novel therapy paradigms like the VR-SRT System will be at the forefront of rehabilitation, facilitating treatment delivery, improving outcomes, and reducing the burdens on individuals, families, and society.”
The goal of the VR-SRT System is to improve control of spatial attention and body-environment awareness through an immersive training process that remaps and realigns visual and motor modalities in the 3D world. The VR-SRT System engages the user’s visual system through stimuli presented in a head-mounted display, while simultaneously engaging the patient’s motor system through head- and positional tracking and a marker-less hand-tracking device.
“For many years, we have been working on the intersection between digital technology and health, developing innovative solutions derived from the latest scientific research and the collective experience of our team,” remarked Julio Alvarez, eHealth Business Unit Manager at Virtualware.
“The current project poses a very attractive technological challenge for Virtualware; we are excited to deliver a series of digital interventions that may aid patients with neuropsychological impairment on their road to recovery. It is a great honor to work with the scientists at the Kessler Foundation, which has an international reputation for excellence in translational rehabilitation research.”
Virtualware is a world-renowned company with expertise in turn-key solutions for immersive and interactive technologies including virtual reality, augmented reality, gamification, immersive training, serious games and interactive hardware manufacturing. The company has an extensive portfolio of work across the entire spectrum of industry and is a CE-certified medical device manufacturer. The company offers bespoke immersive digital solutions for a range of industries. It belongs to Virtualware Group which has 70 people in its offices in Bilbao, Madrid, United Kingdom, Mexico and Chile and has a dedicated R&D lab focused on collaborative projects.
Kessler Foundation, a major nonprofit organization in the field of disability, is a global leader in rehabilitation research that seeks to improve cognition, mobility, and long-term outcomes — including employment — for people with neurological disabilities caused by diseases and injuries of the brain and spinal cord. Kessler Foundation also leads the nation in funding innovative programs that expand employment opportunities for people with disabilities.