Physiotherapy, or physical therapy, is one of the most drastically life-changing tools in medicine. It can allow physicians to help people who have lost some of their physical abilities due to accidents, physical injury and trauma, and serious illness to regain some, and many times all, of those skills back. Patients who might have otherwise experienced severely reduced qualities of life from chronic pain and limited range of motion can many times, with the help of a physical therapist, regain their physical faculties.
The training for physical therapists is rigorous. It’s a delicate practice, after all, to balance pushing recovering patients to their limits enough to strengthen them without allowing them to accrue further injury. Physical therapists are taught through classes with ample demonstration and hands-on learning. However, while watching an experienced physiotherapist is a great way to learn, it can be difficult for the trainees to remember what they saw, relying only on notes and sketches. Many times students have to compromise, focusing either entirely on the lecture and subsequently allowing their note-taking to suffer, or on the note-taking itself, sometimes finding it difficult to keep up with the demonstration.
In many ways, our education for physical therapists is outdated.
The Microsoft Research Centre for Social Natural User Interfaces (SocialNUI) and the Department of Physiotherapy at the University of Melbourne are presently collaborating to design an AR solution for this educational lapse. The “Augmented Studio” uses projectors and Microsoft Kinect sensors to overlay a projection of an anatomical model over a moving body for physiotherapy classes. Students can observe the biomechanics of the human body in action as the projection simulates both simple and complex movements to demonstrate the normal movements of muscles, joints, and bones in real time. You can watch it in action in the video below!
This could prove to be an invaluable tool for physiotherapy students. Not only will they have moving anatomical models right at their fingertips, but they will also have the option to create virtual annotations to remember any notes from the demonstrations. 3D teaching in a life model will help students to visualize the dynamics and specific procedures for the maneuvers they are learning. Just imagine how much easier school might have been for you if you’d had moving demonstrations right before your eyes instead of relying on trying to grasp complex concepts from still photos and textbooks! While this technology is still in development and will need to undergo more research, it’s clear how it could vastly improve the study of anatomy, physiology, and physical therapy.
The “Augmented Studio” seems like a great application for AR technology. It provides an innovative and affordable alternative teaching method for traditional classrooms. It also allows classrooms with a large number of students to each have equal opportunity to learn in an individualized, hands-on way, rather than fighting tooth and nail for the front row of the classroom in an effort to see the demonstration. And the possibilities don’t end with physical therapy classes! Young doctors could use it to learn anatomy, traumatology, and an endless list of other subjects. Sadly, AR is advanced tech and therefore expensive, so might be difficult to provide to medical classrooms in areas where education is less funded. However, as the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights has expressed, “everyone has the right to education,” and here at ARinMED we’d like to think that means pushing forward to provide the most efficient and advanced technology possible to everyone willing to pursuing it.
We will be looking forward to te “Augmented Studio” as it develops, and as soon as more information is available, we’ll provide updates about it. Let us know your opinions in the comment section below!
Category: Internal Medicine and Rehabilitation
Tags: Physiotherapy, Internal Medicine, Augmented reality, AR, Kinect, Microsoft