By continuing your visit to this site, you accept the use of cookies. These ensure the smooth running of our services. Learn more.

Sep 27, 2007

Use of Virtual Reality in Children With Cerebral Palsy

Use of Virtual Reality to Improve Upper-Extremity Control in Children With Cerebral Palsy: A Single-Subject Design.

Phys Ther. 2007 Sep 25;

Authors: Chen YP, Kang LJ, Chuang TY, Doong JL, Lee SJ, Tsai MW, Jeng SF, Sung WH

BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE:/b> Virtual reality (VR) creates an exercise environment in which the intensity of practice and positive feedback can be systematically manipulated in various contexts. The purpose of this study was to investigate the training effects of a VR intervention on reaching behaviors in children with cerebral palsy (CP). Participants Four children with spastic CP were recruited. Method A single-subject design (A-B with follow-up) was used. All children were evaluated with 3 baseline, 4 intervention, and 2 follow-up measures. A 4-week individualized VR training program (2 hours per week) with 2 VR systems was applied to all children. The outcome measures included 4 kinematic parameters (movement time, path length, peak velocity, and number of movement units) for mail-delivery activities in 3 directions (neutral, outward, and inward) and the Fine Motor Domain of the Peabody Developmental Motor Scales-Second Edition (PDMS-2). Visual inspection and the 2-standard-deviation-band method were used to compare the outcome measures. RESULTS: /b> Three children who had normal cognition showed improvements in some aspects of reaching kinematics, and 2 children's change scores on the PDMS-2 reached the minimal detectable change during the intervention. The improvements in kinematics were partially maintained during follow-up. DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION:/b> A 4-week individualized VR training program appeared to improve the quality of reaching in children with CP, especially in children with normal cognition and good cooperation. The training effects were retained in some children after the intervention.

Therapeutic potential of computer to cerebral cortex implantable devices

Therapeutic potential of computer to cerebral cortex implantable devices.

Acta Neurochir Suppl. 2007;97(Pt 2):529-35

Authors: Warwick K, Gasson MN, Spiers AJ

In this article, an overview of some of the latest developments in the field of cerebral cortex to computer interfacing (CCCI) is given. This is posed in the more general context of Brain-Computer Interfaces in order to assess advantages and disadvantages. The emphasis is clearly placed on practical studies that have been undertaken and reported on, as opposed to those speculated, simulated or proposed as future projects. Related areas are discussed briefly only in the context of their contribution to the studies being undertaken. The area of focus is notably the use of invasive implant technology, where a connection is made directly with the cerebral cortex and/or nervous system. Tests and experimentation which do not involve human subjects are invariably carried out a priori to indicate the eventual possibilities before human subjects are themselves involved. Some of the more pertinent animal studies from this area are discussed. The paper goes on to describe human experimentation, in which neural implants have linked the human nervous system bidirectionally with technology and the internet. A view is taken as to the prospects for the future for CCCI, in terms of its broad therapeutic role.

Concrete Dialogues

Re-blogged from Networked Media


Concrete Dialogues is a collaborative online writing project, created for young writers in Perth, Western Australia. The project organises the creative works of 16 to 30 year olds according to geographic location on a digital streetmap of the Perth Metropolitan region. Submissions are based on specific locations in the city and suburbs, which become hyperlinks across the digital map. The result is a psychogeographic portrait of our city–a mosaic of writing that uncovers the darker doorsteps of the intersections you know, the romances in the parks you drive past, the characters of the suburbs you can’t place.

Concrete Dialogues is a rare opportunity for young writers in Perth. It is somewhere they can exhibit their work and come into contact with other writers. Follow the journey of other site users, create your own journey through the streets and short stories, or contribute your own writing about a school in Whitfords, a riverbank in Rossmoyne, a carpark in Darlington



A device for robotic upper extremity repetitive therapy

Design and control of RUPERT: a device for robotic upper extremity repetitive therapy.

IEEE Trans Neural Syst Rehabil Eng. 2007 Sep;15(3):336-46

Authors: Sugar TG, He J, Koeneman EJ, Koeneman JB, Herman R, Huang H, Schultz RS, Herring DE, Wanberg J, Balasubramanian S, Swenson P, Ward JA

The structural design, control system, and integrated biofeedback for a wearable exoskeletal robot for upper extremity stroke rehabilitation are presented. Assisted with clinical evaluation, designers, engineers, and scientists have built a device for robotic assisted upper extremity repetitive therapy (RUPERT). Intense, repetitive physical rehabilitation has been shown to be beneficial overcoming upper extremity deficits, but the therapy is labor intensive and expensive and difficult to evaluate quantitatively and objectively. The RUPERT is developed to provide a low cost, safe and easy-to-use, robotic-device to assist the patient and therapist to achieve more systematic therapy at home or in the clinic. The RUPERT has four actuated degrees-of-freedom driven by compliant and safe pneumatic muscles (PMs) on the shoulder, elbow, and wrist. They are programmed to actuate the device to extend the arm and move the arm in 3-D space. It is very important to note that gravity is not compensated and the daily tasks are practiced in a natural setting. Because the device is wearable and lightweight to increase portability, it can be worn standing or sitting providing therapy tasks that better mimic activities of daily living. The sensors feed back position and force information for quantitative evaluation of task performance. The device can also provide real-time, objective assessment of functional improvement. We have tested the device on stroke survivors performing two critical activities of daily living (ADL): reaching out and self feeding. The future improvement of the device involves increased degrees-of-freedom and interactive control to adapt to a user's physical conditions.

Sep 25, 2007

Positive Technology Journal is a B-list blog

According to Kineda, a website that uses a Technorati-powered widget to compute your "bloglebrity" status, Positive Technology Journal is now a B-list blog, that corresponds to the high-authority group:

The High Authority Group [B-List Bloggers]

(100-499 blogs linking in the last 6 months)
The third group represents a decided shift in blog age while not blogging much more frequently than the last. In keeping with the theme of the maturation of the blogosphere, it seems evident that many of these bloggers were previously in category two and have grown in authority organically over time. In other words, sheer dedication pays off over time.


Thanks also to Neurofuture, that has kindly recommended PTJ for a Thinking Blogger Award


And here are the five blogs that make me think:

Pasta & Vinegar


Networked Performance 


Captology Notebook 


Sensation of presence and cybersickness in applications of virtual reality for rehabilitation

Sensation of presence and cybersickness in applications of virtual reality for advanced rehabilitation (preface)
Journal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation 
Authors: Tohru Kiryu and Richard HY So
Around three years ago, in the special issue on augmented and virtual reality in rehabilitation, the topics of simulator sickness was briefly discussed in relation to vestibular rehabilitation. Simulator sickness with virtual reality applications have also been referred to as visually induced motion sickness or cybersickness. Recently, study on cybersickness has been reported in entertainment, training, game, and medical environment in several journals. Virtual stimuli can enlarge sensation of presence, but they sometimes also evoke unpleasant sensation. In order to safely apply augmented and virtual reality for long-term rehabilitation treatment, sensation of presence and cybersickness should be appropriately controlled. This issue presents the results of five studies conducted to evaluate visually-induced effects and speculate influences of virtual rehabilitation. In particular, the influence of visual and vestibular stimuli on cardiovascular responses are reported in terms of academic contribution.

A second life for google?

Via 3Dpoint.com

There are rumors that google is planning to develop a virtual world like second life, which will require a Gmail account. The speculation was made by Google-watching blog Google Operating System

From the blog: 

Arizona State University's students have the opportunity to test a new product "that will be publicly launched later this year". The invitation page mentions that the product is developed by "a major Internet company" and there are hints that the application is related to social networking, 3D modeling and video games. To complete the questionnaire and get the opportunity to test the product, you need to be a student at ASU.


Read the full post 

Sep 20, 2007

Psychophysiological effects of breathing instructions for stress management

Psychophysiological effects of breathing instructions for stress management.

Appl Psychophysiol Biofeedback. 2007 Jun;32(2):89-98

Authors: Conrad A, Müller A, Doberenz S, Kim S, Meuret AE, Wollburg E, Roth WT

Stressed and tense individuals often are recommended to change the way they breathe. However, psychophysiological effects of breathing instructions on respiration are rarely measured. We tested the immediate effects of short and simple breathing instructions in 13 people seeking treatment for panic disorder, 15 people complaining of daily tension, and 15 controls. Participants underwent a 3-hour laboratory session during which instructions to direct attention to breathing and anti-hyperventilation instructions to breathe more slowly, shallowly, or both were given. Respiratory, cardiac, and electrodermal measures were recorded. The anti-hyperventilation instructions failed to raise end-tidal pCO(2) above initial baseline levels for any of the groups because changes in respiratory rate were compensated for by changes in tidal volume and vice versa. Paying attention to breathing significantly reduced respiratory rate and decreased tidal volume instability compared to the other instructions. Shallow breathing made all groups more anxious than did other instructions. Heart rate and skin conductance were not differentially affected by instructions. We conclude that simple and short instructions to alter breathing do not change respiratory or autonomic measures in the direction of relaxation, except for attention to breathing, which increases respiratory stability. To understand the results of breathing instructions for stress and anxiety management, respiration needs to be monitored physiologically.

A low cost human computer interface based on eye tracking

A Low Cost Human Computer Interface based on Eye Tracking.

Conf Proc IEEE Eng Med Biol Soc. 2006;1(1):3226-3229

Authors: Hiley JB, Redekopp AH, Fazel-Rezai R

This paper describes the implementation of a human computer interface based on eye tracking. Current commercially available systems exist, but have limited use due mainly to their large cost. The system described in this paper was designed to be a low cost and unobtrusive. The technique was video-oculography assisted by corneal reflections. An off-the shelf CCD webcam was used to capture images. The images were analyzed in software to extract key features of the eye. The users gaze point was then calculated based on the relative position of these features. The system is capable of calculating eye-gaze in real-time to provide a responsive interaction. A throughput of eight gaze points per second was achieved. The accuracy of the fixations based on the calculated eye-gazes were within 1 cm of the on-screen gaze location. By developing a low-cost system, this technology is made accessible to a wider range of applications.

Nasdaq Stock Market Inc will launch Neurotech Index

Via Brain Waves

Nasdaq Stock Market Inc will launch NASDAQ NeuroInsights Neurotech Index on September 25 (ticker symbol: NERV).

The 32-member index includes companies whose core business is the development of drugs, devices and diagnostics to treat neurological disorders. The index has been created in conjunction with NeuroInsights, a research firm that monitors and analyzes trends in neurotechnology








Effects of electromyography biofeedback-assisted relaxation on pain in patients with advanced cancer

Effects of electromyography biofeedback-assisted relaxation on pain in patients with advanced cancer in a palliative care unit.

Cancer Nurs. 2007 Sep-Oct;30(5):347-53

Authors: Tsai PS, Chen PL, Lai YL, Lee MB, Lin CC

Most patients with advanced cancer experience pain. However, many cancer patients do not find satisfaction with conventional treatment of pain relief. This study examined the effect of electromyography (EMG) biofeedback-assisted relaxation on cancer-related pain in advanced cancer patients. We hypothesized that changes in EMG activity in frontal muscles underlie the efficacy of EMG biofeedback-assisted relaxation. This was a randomized control study. The experimental group (n = 12) received 6 EMG biofeedback-assisted relaxation sessions over a 4-week period, whereas the control group (n = 12) received conventional care. The primary efficacy measure was the level of pain, measured by the Brief Pain Inventory. Findings from this study show that relaxation training supplemented with visual and auditory EMG biofeedback signals is effective in reducing cancer-related pain in advanced cancer patients, possibly through a mechanism of attenuation of physiological arousal. Electromyography biofeedback-assisted relaxation training may be used along with medications for effective pain management in patients with advanced cancer.

Japanese seniors bored with robot

From Robot.net


According to a Reuters report, Japanese senior citizens quickly become bored with the simple robots so far introduced into nursing homes:

"The residents liked ifbot for about a month before they lost interest. Stuffed animals are more popular." Ifbot is a small robot that can converse, sing, express emotions, and even present trivia quizzes to senior citizens. According to the article the robot has spent most of the past year sitting in a corner, unused. Another robot, Hopis, that looked like a furry pink dog has gone out of production due to poor sales. Hopis was designed to monitor blood sugar, blood pressue, and body temperature. One problem may be that both robots are little more than advanced toys. Neither can help elderly people with day-to-day problems they face such as getting around their house, reading small print, or taking a bath. The elderly have found utilitarian improvements in existing devices more useful: height-adjustable countertops or extra-big control buttons on household gadgets. Whether seniors will find robots that can help with their utilitarian needs more to their liking than fluffy pupbots that sing remains to be seen"

Sep 18, 2007

Virtual Reality applications in improving postural control

Virtual Reality Applications in Improving Postural Control and Minimizing Falls.

Conf Proc IEEE Eng Med Biol Soc. 2006;1(1):2694-2697

Authors: McConville KV, Virk S

Maintaining balance under all conditions is an absolute requirement for humans. Orientation in space and balance maintenance requires inputs from the vestibular, the visual, the proprioceptive and the somatosensory systems. All the cues coming from these systems are integrated by the central nervous system (CNS) to employ different strategies for orientation and balance. How the CNS integrates all the inputs and makes cognitive decisions about balance strategies has been an area of interest for biomedical engineers for a long time. More interesting is the fact that in the absence of one or more cues, or when the input from one of the sensors is skewed, the CNS "adapts" to the new environment and gives less weight to the conflicting inputs [1]. The focus of this paper is a review of different strategies and models put forward by researchers to explain the integration of these sensory cues. Also, the paper compares the different approaches used by young and old adults in maintaining balance. Since with age the musculoskeletal, visual and vestibular system deteriorates, the older subjects have to compensate for these impaired sensory cues for postural stability. The paper also discusses the applications of virtual reality in rehabilitation programs not only for balance in the elderly but also in occupational falls. Virtual reality has profound applications in the field of balance rehabilitation and training because of its relatively low cost. Studies will be conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of virtual reality training in modifying the head and eye movement strategies, and determine the role of these responses in the maintenance of balance.

New applications of mobile telemedicine

Via Mobile Technology 

The Quebec-based company Myca has launched a new website that allows users with camera-equipped mobile phones to snap pictures of their meals, send directly to the nutritionist, and get instant feedback. The cost of the service is $10 per month. 

mobile weblog

VR can help muliple sclerosis patients to improve walking

Via KurzweilAI.net 

Using VR to improve walking 

Researchers at Technion, Israel's Institute of Technology, have developed a virtual reality system to enable people suffering from Multiple Sclerosis to walk more effectively.

The system is composed of two main components - a sensory element that measures the movement of the body and a small screen attached to the patient's eyeglasses. The patient sees a virtual floor moving beneath him as he walks, which helps him to remain stable and improve his walking abilities.

Read the full story

Sep 16, 2007

EU researchers implanted an artificial cerebellum inside a robot

Roland Piquepaille reports that "An international team of European researchers has implanted an artificial cerebellum - the portion of the brain that controls motor functions - inside a robotic system. This EU-funded project is dubbed SENSOPAC, an acronym for "SENSOrimotor structuring of perception and action for emerging cognition". One of the goals of this project is to design robots able to interact with humans in a natural way. This project, which should be completed at the end of 2009, also wants to produce robots which would act as home-helpers for disabled people, such as persons affected by neurological disorders, such as Parkinson's disease."

SENSOPAC website 


Phone calling from Second Life

Via Textually.org 

C/net reports that BT is developing services that will enable users of virtual worlds to call or text out to their colleagues and friends in the real world. "To test the technology it has built a private island in Second Life, which it has dubbed Area 21 - a play on the ultra-secret Area 51 and BT's 21CN network technology, which is being used in the service"

Sep 13, 2007

Virtual reality for the psychophysiological assessment of phobic fear

Virtual reality for the psychophysiological assessment of phobic fear: Responses during virtual tunnel driving.

Psychol Assess. 2007 Sep;19(3):340-6

Authors: Mühlberger A, Bülthoff HH, Wiedemann G, Pauli P

An overall assessment of phobic fear requires not only a verbal self-report of fear but also an assessment of behavioral and physiological responses. Virtual reality can be used to simulate realistic (phobic) situations and therefore should be useful for inducing emotions in a controlled, standardized way. Verbal and physiological fear reactions were examined in 15 highly tunnel-fearful and 15 matched control participants in 3 virtual driving scenarios: an open environment, a partially open tunnel (gallery), and a closed tunnel. Highly tunnel-fearful participants were characterized by elevated fear responses specifically during tunnel drives as reflected in verbal fear ratings, heart rate reactions, and startle responses. Heart rate and fear ratings differentiated highly tunnel-fearful from control participants with an accuracy of 88% and 93%, respectively. Results indicate that virtual environments are valuable tools for the assessment of fear reactions and should be used in future experimental research.

Telepresence robot for interpersonal communication with the elderly

Developing a Telepresence Robot for Interpersonal Communication with the Elderly in a Home Environment.

Telemed J E Health. 2007 Aug;13(4):407-424

Authors: Tsai TC, Hsu YL, Ma AI, King T, Wu CH

"Telepresence" is an interesting field that includes virtual reality implementations with human-system interfaces, communication technologies, and robotics. This paper describes the development of a telepresence robot called Telepresence Robot for Interpersonal Communication (TRIC) for the purpose of interpersonal communication with the elderly in a home environment. The main aim behind TRIC's development is to allow elderly populations to remain in their home environments, while loved ones and caregivers are able to maintain a higher level of communication and monitoring than via traditional methods. TRIC aims to be a low-cost, lightweight robot, which can be easily implemented in the home environment. Under this goal, decisions on the design elements included are discussed. In particular, the implementation of key autonomous behaviors in TRIC to increase the user's capability of projection of self and operation of the telepresence robot, in addition to increasing the interactive capability of the participant as a dialogist are emphasized. The technical development and integration of the modules in TRIC, as well as human factors considerations are then described. Preliminary functional tests show that new users were able to effectively navigate TRIC and easily locate visual targets. Finally the future developments of TRIC, especially the possibility of using TRIC for home tele-health monitoring and tele-homecare visits are discussed.

Visuo-motor learning with combination of different rates of motor imagery and physical practice

Visuo-motor learning with combination of different rates of motor imagery and physical practice.

Exp Brain Res. 2007 Sep 12;

Authors: Allami N, Paulignan Y, Brovelli A, Boussaoud D

Sports psychology suggests that mental rehearsal facilitates physical practice in athletes and clinical rehabilitation attempts to use mental rehearsal to restore motor function in hemiplegic patients. Our aim was to examine whether mental rehearsal is equivalent to physical learning, and to determine the optimal proportions of real execution and rehearsal. Subjects were asked to grasp an object and insert it into an adapted slot. One group (G0) practiced the task only by physical execution (240 trials); three groups imagined performing the task in different rates of trials (25%, G25; 50%, G50; 75%, G75), and physically executed movements for the remaining trials; a fourth, control group imagined a visual rotation task in 75% of the trials and then performed the same motor task as the others groups. Movement time (MT) was compared for the first and last physical trials, together with other key trials, across groups. All groups learned, suggesting that mental rehearsal is equivalent to physical motor learning. More importantly, when subjects rehearsed the task for large numbers of trials (G50 and G75), the MT of the first executed trial was significantly shorter than the first executed trial in the physical group (G0), indicating that mental practice is better than no practice at all. Comparison of the first executed trial in G25, G50 and G75 with the corresponding trials in G0 (61, 121 and 181 trials), showed equivalence between mental and physical practice. At the end of training, the performance was much better with high rates of mental practice (G50/G75) compared to physical practice alone (G0), especially when the task was difficult. These findings confirm that mental rehearsal can be beneficial for motor learning and suggest that imagery might be used to supplement or partly replace physical practice in clinical rehabilitation.

1 2 Next