We want to add a more customized exercise approach to this diagnostic system. Arm and hand movements are separated in virtual reality (VR). In doing so, detailed information about the movement patterns, speed and acceleration can facilitate an accurate analysis. In doing so, the current state assessment is based on objective data for the very first time ever.
What’s more, as part of the project, we hope to develop models that accurately analyze the arm movements, thus making an early detection of Parkinson's disease possible. At present, a DaTscan, also known as a PET/CT scan, is used as a tool to confirm the diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease. Unfortunately, emission computed tomography is very expensive, making it a rarely performed imaging test. The Bergmannsheil Bochum Hospital, for example, performs a DaTscan only two to three times per year.
What role will virtual reality (VR) play in your project?
Iossifidis: I am confident that after the project has been completed, we will be able to offer a solution that can be implemented as a diagnostic test using a VR headset and the respective gloves. To collect the data, the patients are tested via a kind of virtual reality game. This data can then be used to determine the progression and stage of the patient's disease.
How does the sensor-based smart glove work?
Iossifidis: Our project objective is to develop an active sensor-based smart glove. It is made of fabric and includes tendons and small motors and is intended for people who have difficulties closing and opening their hands. The glove aims to gently compensate for the weak grip strength. This aspect is controlled by a muscle stimulation module. At the same time, trackers measure the movement of the hand.
Over the course of the project, we will minutely measure muscle activity to develop a device that stimulates the antagonist muscles to offset the tremor. The goal is to achieve the same functionality as a brain implant. The latter is frequently used to reduce tremors.