Creators of a new app which was designed for Apple TV hope that it will help stroke victims to recover. Researchers at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine have created a game that has been specifically designed to change the way that we approach stroke rehabilitation. The game, called Bandit’s Shark Showdown, has a young dolphin as the central character who has to battle with various sea dwellers including hammerhead sharks. Currently, a sister version of the game is being played by stroke patients with impairment to their arms, which involves learning to sync the movements of their arms (which have been placed in a robotic sling), with those of a dolphin.
While many scientists have already used existing technologies such as Nintendo Wii in their research, this is the first time that software has been created specifically to address this issue. Furthermore, although the game has been created within Johns Hopkins, as the app is available to the public via the App Store, the researchers are also able to glean important feedback from the commercial world.
By using simple, non-invasive experiments, John Krakauer has gained new insights into how the brain learns to control the body
The game has been created in conjunction with neuroscientist and neurologist, John Krakauer, who believes that you can learn a great deal about the brain without imaging it. By using simple, non-invasive experiments, he’s gained new insights into how the brain learns to control the body. To further his work, Krakauer wanted to expand the scope of his ‘Brain, Learning, Animation, Movement’ lab, to create the kind of lab where experts from different areas would collaborate using their shared interest in movement.
Krakauer is Portuguese born, although he studied at Cambridge, and he gained his medical degree at Columbia. His first project was based around stroke rehabilitation, the No 1 cause of long-term disability in the U.S., and involved a series of studies looking at how stroke patients fare in the first year of recovery. The team are currently engaged in a clinical trial to test a new form of rehabilitation using robotics and the video game, and hope to demonstrate that this collaborate lab is the ‘way to go’ for the future study and treatment of neurological problems.
The commercial game made its debut in the Apple Store in October 2014 and has already been nominated for a number of awards. While it will be several years before the findings of this trial are published, the team continue to find innovative ways, such as the 3D printouts of assistive devices, to help to rehabilitate stroke victims.
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