Virtual reality movement training for amputees

CAREN, developed at the University of South Florida, helps those with limb loss and prosthetics improve basic function, symmetry and walking efficiency.  It is also a tool for researchers to study ways to improve mobility and balance.

Wearing a safety harness and walking on a  treadmill in the room-sized system, participants of a recent study engaged in audio-visual balance games, explored virtual environments, and used an avatar to simulate activities fro on a surround screen.

CAREN’s interactive games allow for physical rehabilitation, combined with cognitive tasks, such as requiring someone to dig for objects in a virtual world while still walking on a treadmill. Distraction gait training could help  balance, mobility and coordination in PTSD, traumatic brain injury or stroke patients.

Boat driving, walking in a combat environment or mountain hiking  can be simulated. Visual tracking technology allows researchers to evaluate a patient’s gait or performance in real time, and immediately adjust the system to customize the rehab/training process.