Stroke Rehab goes Virtual
Dr David Hobbs (Left) and members of his research team
Researchers from Flinders University and UniSA are set to develop a new rehabilitation technique for stroke survivors using state-of-the-art Virtual Reality (VR) technology.
Dr David Hobbs has been awarded a Flinders Foundation Health Seed Grant to design and test a unique virtual environment – explored through an immersive VR headset - to help increase chronic stroke survivors' interest and engagement in upper limb rehabilitation exercises as they work to regain function.
“The system will be based on physiotherapy and occupational therapy principles, focusing specifically on mirror therapy, with a musical twist,” says PhD candidate Thomas Beltrame, who is collaborating with Dr Hobbs on the project.
“Music has been shown to produce physical, psychological, and cognitive benefits, however, musical instruments can be very challenging to play while recovering from an upper limb impairment, particularly when hand function is limited.
“Therefore, we are creating abstract musical instruments in VR that don’t exist in the real world, where the method of play will be directly linked to physical movements known to promote motor recovery.”
Designed for stroke survivors to undertake some of their rehab at home, the system will also assist in reducing some of the travel required to attend sessions in a clinic or hospital.
“When someone has a stroke, the aftereffects can be debilitating and lasting, and these effects can range from partial paralysis to impairment of speech, understanding, and memory,” Dr Hobbs explains.
“Our research will hopefully benefit all post-stroke survivors, but it is specifically targeted towards those who are usually referred to as "chronic" patients, who have had their stroke more than six months ago.
“If successful, the functional improvements for the patient will hopefully translate to an improved quality of life for both them and their primary carer as well.”
Once designed and tested, the system will be trialled with 30 stroke survivors asked to use the system at home for eight weeks.
Dr Hobbs’ project is one of 31 health and medical research projects to share in $750,000 funding, to support exciting research projects across a variety of illnesses, diseases, and social issues, as part of Flinders Foundation’s Health Seed Grant Round in partnership with Flinders University.
The project is being undertaken by technical and clinical researchers, with expertise in engineering, physiotherapy, and neuroscience, including Dr David Hobbs, Mr Thomas Beltrame, Associate Professor Kenneth Pope, Professor Susan Hillier, and Associate Professor Belinda Lange.
New Hope for Pancreatic Cancer
Dr Jean Winter and her Flinders University research team will soon begin trials of a world-first blood biomarker test for patients with pancreatic cancer.
Help for families in gambling battle
The Southern Adelaide Local Health Network’s (SALHN) Statewide Gambling Therapy Service provides psychological therapies to individuals with gambling addictions.
Rapid access to surgical procedures
Podiatrists at Noarlunga Hospital will trial a new model of care for anxious patients, to help them get rapid access to some minor surgical procedures.
$1 Million in grants awarded
$1 million in grants awarded to 23 health and medical research projects across Southern Adelaide
31 New Health and Medical Research Projects
Health and medical researchers across the Flinders Medical Precinct will share in $750,000 funding, to support exciting research projects across a variety of illnesses, diseases, and social issues.
Grateful Tony Gives Back
Struggling to get a breath in and feeling like he was “choking to death”, Tony de Maaijer knew he was in a bad way.
New Funding for Cancer Research
World Cancer Day (February 4) marked the announcement of funding for four new cancer research projects thanks to the generosity of guests and supporters of Flinders Foundation’s Pink Yellow Blue Enchanted Garden event.
Tour de Cure’s New Mission to Tackle Head and Neck Cancers
Pedal power is helping to re-shape the monitoring of head and neck cancers in a bid to improve care for patients, particularly those in rural and regional areas.
Ralph’s Legacy The Ralph Ernst Fellowship: Changing the Face of Survival in Prostate and Bladder Cancers
A generous man’s chance encounter with Flinders Medical Centre 35 years ago is now helping to change the future for men with prostate and bladder cancers.
Healthcare Heroes Find Ways to Smile with Patients
The wearing of face masks and other personal protective equipment (PPE) by healthcare workers has become a way of life.