Researchers at Motek’s (Motion Technology) medical division have been working with a virtual reality program that could be used for rehabilitation, sports training, and even for the early diagnosis of balance disorders, Reuters reports. The system is not a new one, but is worthy of taking a look.
Motek Medical explains its system:
CAREN is a versatile, multi sensory system for diagnostic, rehabilitation, evaluation and registration of the human balance system. The system works in real-time and enables the creation of a variety of experiments in a controlled and repeatable environment by using different virtual reality principals.
A motion platform, on which the object is standing, enables manipulation of the ground while a motion capture system, measures and registers the subject’s movements, as well as making him a part of a predictive feedback loop.
The human balance system develops at an early stage in life. After sufficient time, unique, yet universal patterns emerge, enabling us to move freely and to cope with different situations (walking down the street, climbing a ladder, avoiding a slippery floor etc,). The use of these patterns becomes automated and unconscious and thus we find it hard to evaluate whether a learned pattern which was sufficient when we were kids, is still valid and optimal when we are adults, or when conditions changes. (illness, amputation etc.)
CAREN has an unique characteristic, which enables to get the subject into a predictive-feedback-loop, creating a situation, which does not exist in nature.
A state where the subject controls and influences the ground upon he stands in a dynamic and active way. In that kind of environment, any pattern or compensation-strategy, that the subject may have won’t help him, thus, forcing full concentration and awareness in order to stay in balance. Therapists can use this rare opportunity and train with the subject new strategies for maintaining balance, as well as changing and improving current patterns. Additionally, the anomaly of the situation will force increased body-compensation-movements in order to stay in balance, making it easy for the therapist to recognize and evaluate the specific strategies being taken by the subject, as well as profoundly increasing diagnostic capabilities (specially early-diagnosis of balance disorder and balance-disorder related illnesses) and decreasing the time needed for accurate diagnosis and successful rehabilitation.