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An increasing number of people need medical (home) care and rehabilitation after suffering from stroke. Today therapy is usually offered by therapists in healthcare centers or private practices, typically on a one-on-one basis. This situation is very expensive for society, and time consuming, difficult and expensive for the patients. To improve the situation we want to develop therapy applications based on innovative but cost-effective sensor technologies enabling patients to do part of their rehabilitation training at home without permanent supervision of a therapist.

Project Leader: Thomas Haslwanter
Co-workers: Thomas Minarik
Funded by: Regio 13 (Upper Austria) - European Regional Development Fund (EU)
Duration: January 2012 – December 2014



Against the background of increasing numbers of elderly people needing medical care and long term rehabilitation, economic and demographic changes pose new challenges in health related issues. To meet these challenges and to avoid exploding health care costs, new innovative solutions are necessary. Today therapy is typically offered to patients by therapists in healthcare centers or at the therapist’s private practice. For most patients travelling to a healthcare center or the therapist’s practice is time consuming and expensive. In addition frequent therapy sessions have a considerable impact on the daily routine of the patients.

To improve this situation we want to cooperate with medical experts (medical doctors, physiotherapists and occupational therapists) to develop cost-effective technological concepts to bring part of the rehabilitation therapy to the home of the patient.

Focus group stroke patients

In a first step we want to focus on the motor and neurological rehabilitation of the upper extremities of patients suffering from stroke. Due to the advancing aging of society the number of patients suffering from stroke is continuously increasing. Rehabilitation after stroke primarily aims at enabling the patients to return to their homes and to become as independent as possible. For many of the “activities of daily living” like eating, washing, pointing, and grasping the upper extremities are crucial.

Innovative, cost-effective sensor technology

To implement the therapy applications we want to use innovative but affordable measuring and sensor technologies to capture the movements of the patients during therapy. These technologies will then be combined with the motivating and encouraging aspects of computer and video games to developed applications suitable for home use. Suitable sensor technologies could include video-based systems combined with image processing algorithms (e.g. using the Microsoft Kinect) or inertial or mechanical sensors capable of capturing movements in all three dimensions of space.

Therapy applications

In cooperation with our medical partners we want to identify therapy applications that are suitable for rehabilitation at home. In addition we want to determine the user requirements from the perspective of patients, therapists, and medical specialists in order to make these applications usable and useful.

In a second phase of the project we want to implement selected applications and show that they are suitable and useful for rehabilitation at home. In clinical trials we want to prove the quality of the therapy and demonstrate the acceptance of the patients for this kind of therapy.

Some important aspects include:

  • Interactive games help to motivate patients over a longer period of time.
  • Quantitative motion measurements enable the patients to carry out the exercises correctly without permanent supervision of a therapist.
  • Saving relevant therapy data enables patients and therapists to monitor the rehabilitation progress.