Virtual reality allows amputees to train with prosthetics

Last Updated: Sat, Aug 25, 2012 10:20 hrs

Researchers have developed a new virtual reality training environment to help amputees get accustomed to their new prosthetic arms.

Prosthesis manufacturer Otto Bock has teamed up with researchers from the Interactive Media Systems Group at the Vienna University of Technology in Austria to develop ProsthesisTrainer.

Wearing a VR headset and sensors to track arm movements, users can practice their control skills without risking any damage to themselves or their surroundings.

In the exercise, people learn how to manipulate differently shaped virtual objects and to adjust the force of the prosthetic hand's grip, which if applied too hard will make the object explode.

The video shows the current prototype, but the researchers plan to add more complex scenarios soon.

The set-up combines a motion-capture system called iotracker with electromyography, a technique for monitoring electrical signals in skeletal muscles.

Data from the motion and electrical sensors is then fed into ARTiFICe, a VR framework for mapping the real world onto virtual objects, which is built on top of Unity 3 - a popular video game engine.

So far, the system has been tested with non-amputee volunteers only, the New Scientist quoted Annette Mossell at the Vienna University of Technology, as saying.

The next round of evaluation will be done with the cooperation of the Vienna General Hospital and supervised by medical experts. (ANI)

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