Many stroke patients struggle for months or even years to regain the mobility and control of their limbs. Traditional physical therapy is grueling and not engaging at all. But this is about to change. Regan Petrie, a New Zealand based developer has decided to create an augmented reality game based on his Masters thesis at Victoria University of Wellington. The concept behind the game and the subject of the thesis is that augmented reality technology can help patient with limited mobility caused by stroke, to regain control over their limbs.
NZ Fauna AR—Exercise and Entertainment
The result of Regan Petrie’s work is a fun and engaging augmented reality game featuring a friendly and very hungry kiwi bird named Fizzy. Kiwi birds are native to New Zealand, hence the name of the game.
The purpose of the game is to feed Fizzy gooseberries. The bird is continually hungry and pops onto your mobile phone screen seeking his favorite treat. In order to feed Fizzy, patients need to stand up and move the handheld device back and forth and from side to side.
The movements needed to allow Fizzy to discover the gooseberries are exactly those prescribed in physical therapy for stroke patients. However, once they are immersed in the augmented reality game, patients do not think about the fact that they are actually doing physical therapy.
Medicine and Augmented Reality Make a Dream Team Once Again
NZ Fauna AR is only the latest example of how new technologies can help healthcare progress. This is not just a simple and fun augmented reality game. NZ Fauna AR is a powerful ally for physical therapists and patients in reaching mobility goals faster and with less stress.
The game is developed around the three key principles of physical therapy for this category of patients:
- Stroke survivor-friendly system—the game is designed to be easy to play by people with limited mobility;
- Meaningful play—the players need to be able to emotionally connect with the character of the game;
- Progression—the range of movements becomes gradually complex as players complete levels and goals.
The First Patient Trials—A Success
Regan Petrie himself visited a trial group of stroke patients in Auckland and was impressed with their reactions while engaged in the game. “Working with such a fragile kind of audience allowed us to really hone-in on the design and create something that was more meaningful. People really appreciated that we were making stuff like this for them … trying to make rehabilitation easier,” he told Stuff.