Talk about technology coming to medical aid and of late, there’s one particular product which has not just brought a breakthrough in medical possibilities but also changed the way technology can assist in the medical field. Yes, you guessed it right: we are talking about Microsoft Kinect!
This Guinness World Record-holder product from Microsoft is revolutionary in many ways. From helping students suffering from dyslexia to allowing surgeons to inspect the intricate details of human body through simple hand movements in an operation room, Kinect has come a long way. Adding another feather in its studded hat is the possibility of helping stroke victims recover from facial paralysis.
UK-based Nottingham Trent University recently announced that it has received a £347,000 grant from the National Institute for Health Research Invention for Innovation to proceed on a medical project that will help stroke victims ease their facial muscles and heal back to the normal healthy state. Unlike the existing method where patients use paper to exercise during their rehabilitation process, this new project aims to improve the efficiency by allowing the victim to run through the routine facial exercises but through Kinect for Windows where an avatar on the screen gives the patients real-time feedback and tracks their progress too.
The system will automatically detect and track asymmetries on either side of a patient’s face – such as mouth corner, eyelids and cheeks – while they complete their routine facial exercises. This information will be shown on a TV or computer screen to give immediate feedback to the user. Using the avatar as both a visual and oral communicator, the system will take the patient through a series of exercises and indicate the degree of success.
To be started from April 2013 for a period of 18 months, the research group behind this project is aiming to create a prototype that can eventually be mass produced. The device will consist of an interface box which runs the software and is linked to the Windows Microsoft Kinect and the patient’s TV or PC monitor.
“We’re hoping this technology will not only help reduce the burden on the NHS but more importantly improve the quality of life of stroke survivors” – Dr Philip Breedon, reader in smart technologies at NTU
Amen to that!