Arlington, TX -- (ReleaseWire) -- 07/10/2007 -- Two European teams of researchers came together with the end goal of developing an innovative system that combines virtual reality with that of the imagination to possibly aid in the rehabilitation of disabled patients. The project was envisioned by the two research groups that will work together through a European consortium, PRESENCCIA.
One team from Austria specializes in measuring the signals from the brain through electrodes or implants, while the other team from London is known for creating highly effective virtual reality worlds. The two teams aim to develop a virtual world where a person can perform ordinary actions like lifting an arm just by using the imagination.
A member of the Austrian group states that the use of virtual reality to aid in the physical rehabilitation of patients is becoming popular these days. He further said the innovative idea could offer numerous possibilities both with the physical and psychological treatments.
The vision behind the project is to create a connection between the brain and the developed virtual world. The system will apply electrodes to the scalp of the person that will provide the electrical activity within the brain. This then will be monitored by electroencephalogram (EEG) equipment. A simple action such as putting one foot in front of another would then be magnified on a screen where a character or an avatar would do the particular action that was being imagined by the person. The system that will be used is such that it is trained to identify the individual patterns of brain activity that can produce the virtual action.
To aid in the testing activity of the research, the person would be seated inside a room where the stereo video footage would be magnified onto the three walls located inside, plus the floor. To add to the 3D illusion, a pair of shuttered glasses will also be used to create the feeling of being inside the virtual reality world.
How does the system help in the treatment of disabled patients? It provides a controlled virtual reality environment where patients can imagine themselves doing the actions that they otherwise could not do in reality. This way, the disabled person conducts brain activity despite the absence of the physical movement. Hence, the system provides motivational support to those who have various physical handicaps.
Eventually, members of the two groups hope that the innovative system can also provide handicapped persons to operate devices remotely.
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