BY JAKE CHNG
POST-STROKE patients at the National University Hospital (NUH) may be able to strengthen their wrists and arms through two new Nintendo Wii - a motion-detecting video game console - computer games tailored for them, from next year.
A group of four final-year students from Singapore Polytechnic are developing these games, under a collaboration between the school and the hospital.
In one game, the patient "barbecues" food over a grill by flicking the wrist of the hand holding a Nintendo Wii remote control, which acts as a virtual hand.
In the other game, the patient, holding the remote control, "throws" copies of newspapers at criminals who appear randomly from behind trees.
"The two games are customised for post-stroke patients to aid their body movement, and are easier for them to understand and perform than the commercial Nintendo Wii games that NUH is using," said NUH senior physiotherapist Ramaswamy Suresh, 32, who is also the games' project consultant.
Both games, conceptualised three months ago, are expected to be completed by March, after which NUH patients can use them as part of their rehabilitation therapy.
The project is among five that will develop rehabilitation therapies, under the collaboration that was sealed yesterday with a memorandum of understanding.
Mr Suresh said: "Singapore Polytechnic and NUH had similar goals regarding moving towards virtual reality, and developing the projects would benefit their students and our patients. It was also more cost-effective than getting a company to customise the games."
Another project is a virtual-reality program targeted mainly at patients with neurological disorders, which three groups of students have worked on over the last nine months. It is expected to be ready next October.
The patient wears goggles and a glove embedded with motion sensors on a hand that he can move.
Through the goggles, he sees a life-like virtual projection of both his mobile hand and his paralysed hand moving.
This is meant to stimulate his mind into moving his paralysed hand.
The other projects are: a virtual tutor that guides a patient to follow its movements; a tilt table that the patient is strapped to, which helps him do stepping exercises; and a machine that moves the patient's shoulder.
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