The Paralympics are always a reminder of how one physical disability does not define the rest of the person. Quadriplegics can still fire rifles and throw a ball, and blind people can still run, jump, and swim. The difference for blind folks, though, is that athletes learn correct muscle motion by studying the movement of others, and blind people can’t really do that. Trainers usually guide blind athletes by directly moving their arms and legs, helping to embed the movements into their muscle memory.
PhysOrg is profiling the work of researchers at Imperial College London who developed a vibrational feedback device that teaches blind people to perform precise repetitive movements without an ever-present coach. The Ghost system can memorize specific movements when demonstrated by a trainer. The athlete can then repeatedly practice those movements while the Ghost monitors their accuracy and provides guidance using vibrations and audio cues.
Moreover, the system can import motion recordings taken from star athletes, helping the blind reproduce techniques that win medals in the Olympics. Although the system was designed specifically for blind athletes, we expect the technology to find its way to people recovering from a stroke or other neurological conditions.
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