Sheffield Hallam

Finalist category: Digital Health Award


Digital Health Award, Finalist, 2017

Virtual reality helping amputees

Ivan Phelan, is Associate Researcher working in gaming development at Sheffield Hallam University, he’s been involved in this area for the last ten years. “I really like the idea of using gaming technologies in a clinical setting and how it has the potential to make rehabilitation more engaging and even speed up recovery time,” he said.

Using technology first developed for virtual reality gaming, his team are currently working on a project to support amputees. It’s designed specifically for those with missing upper limbs. The new technology is helping designers create faster and more accurate real-life prosthetics. It’s really pushing the boundaries.

During trials researcher placed a special armband, called a Myo around peoples’ stumps. Once immersed in the virtual world, amputees can see the prosthetic limbs and are asked to do different everyday tasks in a kitchen, from turning on taps to slicing up food.

By using this new technology researchers are able to see how these electronic limbs will work in real life, improve how it looks and how its grip function works. The Myoelectic device they have developed shows incredible promise as a training tool. Not only is it affordable, but they hope it will reduce rejection rates and become a more enjoyable experience for amputees.

The innovative project also featured as part of a national public engagement event, run by the Wellcome Trust. These events were about creating a debate about limb-loss versus views about normality.



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