The West Health Institute announced that it has developed technology to aid physical therapy professionals and patients using Microsoft's Kinect for Windows motion tracking platform. The application leverages Microsoft's Kinect for Windows motion camera and a Windows 7 personal computer and provides interactive feedback and educational materials to help providers improve patient adherence to regimens and ensure that the exercises are performed correctly. The Institute is beginning clinical research studies of the technology with the Naval Medical Center of San Diego.
While there have been previous technology demonstrations that leveraged Kinect for physical therapy, the West Health Institute's Spencer Hutchins, who co-invented the technology and serves as the project's lead, told InformationWeek that the application, called Reflexion Rehabilitation Measurement Tool (RMT), is the first physical therapy app leveraging Kinect to go into clinical trials. The clinical research pilot studies will review the program's usability and participants' adherence to therapy. Later studies will also measure clinical outcomes.
“Rehabilitation needs to happen continuously, not just when the therapist or doctor is watching, so we developed a tool to extend the expert guidance of physical therapists and make it more engaging and more effective for patients,” Dr. Ravi Komatireddy, co-inventor of the technology and a visiting fellow with West Health Institute and clinical scholar with Scripps Translational Science Institute, said in a statement.
Most physical therapy programs today instruct patients via paper pamphlets that include drawings to demonstrate prescribed exercises and the only time providers can track how well their patients are performing the exercises is during their face-to-face visits. Most physical therapy exercises are practiced when the patient is away from their provider.
“The biggest problem with physical therapy is patients not doing enough of it or not doing it properly,” Hutchins stated. “We are building a tool to help physical therapists measure progress in a fun way that could potentially help patients heal faster.”