Elements: the design of an interactive virtual environment for movement rehabilitation of traumatic brain injury patients

Duckworth, J 2010, Elements: the design of an interactive virtual environment for movement rehabilitation of traumatic brain injury patients, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Media and Communications, RMIT University.

Document type: Thesis
Collection: Theses

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Title Elements: the design of an interactive virtual environment for movement rehabilitation of traumatic brain injury patients
Author(s) Duckworth, J
Year 2010
Abstract This exegesis details the development of an interactive art work titled Elements designed to assist upper limb movement rehabilitation for patients recovering from traumatic brain injury. Enhancing physical rehabilitative processes in the early stages following a brain injury is one of the great challenges facing therapists. Elements enables physical user interaction that may present new opportunities for treatment.

One of the key problems identified in the neuro-scientific field is that developers of interactive computer systems for movement rehabilitation are often constrained to the use of conventional desktop interfaces. These interfaces often fall short of fostering natural user interaction that translates into the relearning of body movement for patients, particularly in ways that reinforce the embodied relationship between the sensory world of the human body and the predictable effects of bodily movement in relation to the surrounding environment. Interactive multimedia environments that can correlate a patient’s sense of embodiment may assist in the acquisition of movement skills that transfer to the real world. The central theme of my exegesis will address these concerns by analysing contemporary theories of embodied interaction as a foundation to design Elements.

Designing interactive computer environments for traumatic brain injured patients is, however, a challenging issue. Patients frequently exhibit impaired upper limb function which severely affects activities for daily living and self-care. Elements responds to this level of disability by providing the patient with an intuitive tabletop computer environment that affords basic gestural control.

As part of a multidisciplinary project team, I designed the user interfaces, interactive multimedia environments, and audiovisual feedback (visual, haptic and auditory) used to help the patients relearn movement skills.

The physical design of the Elements environment consists of a horizontal tabletop graphics display, a stereoscopic computer video tracking system, tangible user interfaces, and a suite of seven interactive software applications. Each application provides the patients with a task geared toward the patient reaching, grasping, lifting, moving, and placing the tangible user interfaces on the display. Audiovisual computer feedback is used by patients to refine their movements online and over time. Patients can manipulate the feedback to create unique aesthetic outcomes in real time. The system design provides tactility, texture, and audiovisual feedback to entice patients to explore their own movement capabilities in externally directed and self-directed ways.

This exegesis contributes to the larger research agenda of embodied interaction. My original contribution to knowledge is Elements, an interactive artwork that may enable patients to relearn movement skills, raise their level of self-esteem, sense of achievement, and behavioural skills
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Institution RMIT University
School, Department or Centre Media and Communications
Keyword(s) Interactive Art
Virtual Rehabilitation
Embodied Interaction
Traumatic Brain Injury
Movement Rehabilitation
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Created: Wed, 06 Apr 2011, 16:45:23 EST by Guy Aron
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