Indian entrepreneur creates virtual rehab through physical therapy gamification
After enduring a life-altering accident on a motorcycle, an entrepreneur in India set about to fix a broken industry where affordable physiotherapy was not readily available through physical therapy gamification.
Divyanshu Varshney came up with the idea for Fizio when he and a friend were involved in a terrible accident.
“While traveling on a two wheeler with my friend Chhavnish, we met with a deadly accident and got my leg fractured,” says Varshney.
“The recovery required physiotherapy rehabilitation care, and we lacked personal financial resources to afford such care. Chhavnish, the more unfortunate one among us, due to lack of physiotherapy services, developed a serious condition and had to undergo a surgery and has till this date never been able to fully recover.”
Varshney then began visiting physiotherapy clinics in his neighborhood only to find out that the services were less than optimal or simply did not exist at all. His solution was to gamify physical therapy as a type of virtual rehab, and Fizio was born.
Fizio, a product of Spiro Studies, is an easy-to-use virtual rehabilitation platform designed to aid the rehabilitation process and track patients progress.
With 3D-Full Body Motion Sensing, Fizio animates the in-game avatar of a person using real-time motion capture data. The full skeleton of the user is then tracked and the functions performed are simulated in the virtual environment.
Analyses of the users are then sent to the Microsoft Azure Server, which hosts the database and helps measure the evolution of the patient on his or her way to recovery.
Physical Therapy Gamification
According to research published in the January 2017 edition the Pediatric Physical Therapy journal, computer games in physical therapy “are important variables in physical therapy interventions because they involve reward-related dopaminergic systems in the brain that are known to facilitate learning through long-term potentiation of neural connections.”
Fizio aims to make physiotherapy fun and convenient by transforming existing physical therapy exercises into video-games, and uses Microsoft’s Kinect sensor to track and assess patient compliance. Designed with physical and occupational therapists, each exercise and activity is programmed to maximize recovery in a safe environment.
The FDA approved Microsoft’s Kinect sensor for physiotherapy in February of last year after Israeli startup, BioGaming, launched it’s Yugo Microsoft Kinect-based physical therapy system, according to Fierce Biotech.
According to Petro Soininen, Microsoft Software Development Engineer Manager and Real Life Code blog author, “Commodity depth-capable cameras, such as the Microsoft Kinect, provide a wealth of cost-efficient opportunities for detection and tracking of various shapes and objects. One interesting research area for utilizing depth camera data revolves around a combination of machine learning and model fitting to identify and track hand movement with extremely high fidelity in real time.”
“Fizio is a software based rehabilitation platform that makes physical therapy fun and convenient for patients recovering from surgery or injury,” Varshney continues.
“The games are motivating and created for different pathologies in order to respond and adapt to the patient’s needs. I now want to bring Fizio to every person who has lacked physiotherapy services due to financial constraints.”