New innovations in virtual reality to transform brain injury rehabilitation
Researchers from The Hopkins Centre are leading the field in tackling spatial neglect, one of the most mysterious challenges experienced by people with brain injuries. Using an artificial intelligence (AI) enabled virtual reality system, Dr. David Painter, Professor Heidi Zeeman and Professor Trevor Hine recently won Australia's first ever Bionics Queensland Challenge in the category of ‘Neural and AI-Enabled Bionics’. Dr Painter will use the $50,000 prize money to fast track this cutting-edge bold idea into a better solution for people with spatial neglect following brain injury.
“Bionics Queensland has provided a platform to meet and interact with fellow innovators, working together to improve the quality of life for people with disabilities”. “It is really great to be on the forefront, with AI taking off. It is exciting to see things as they are progressing and help to progress and make lives better for everyday people”, Dr. Painter said.
Dr. Painter’s winning team brought together neuroscience, AI and gaming to assess and treat spatial attention following brain injury. This novel virtual reality (VR) platform, called ‘Attention Atlas’, maps attention in a three-dimensional (3D) virtual space. It allows high fidelity assessment of spatial attention, accurately pinpointing visuospatial neglect in ways that cannot currently occur.
“Brain injury is often associated with hidden cognitive disabilities that are only understood by the person who experiences them. What our technology allows us to do is to visualise the internal, to make it obvious to the person what their brain is doing, and that gives us an opportunity for rehabilitation”, said neuropsychologist, Professor Heidi Zeeman.
Dr. Painter is excited to get started, “using gaming technology, virtual reality headsets and gaming scenarios, we will be able to improve spatial attention for the first time”. “It’s fun, people enjoy it and would gladly commit to a rehabilitation program using virtual reality” he said.
“We are using artificial intelligence (AI) to establish the relationship between basic three-dimensional 360-degree spatial attention and performance on the driving simulator. We can measure attention during a simple letter task and apply this to the measurement of attention during the driving simulator. AI enables us to analyse the patterns of attention and redesign the game to improve driving-related attention”, he said.
Professor Trevor Hine, an expert in cognitive psychology, notes the importance of the gaming element, “It’s a way of bring in gaming into rehabilitation and making it fun! People are more likely to take it up, but best of all, they can do it at home” Professor Hine has researched cognitive driving skills for many years and believes the Attention Atlas is an exciting application of VR to driving following brain injury.
Stay tuned for more on this award-winning project, making the improbable possible in life changing innovation advancement and transforming lives here and around the world.
Learn more about the project and it's partners:
Project profile on YouTube
The Hopkins Centre
Disability Rehabilitation Alliance, Menzies Health Institute Queensland
Bionics Queensland Challenge 2020
- Bold Ideas Better Solutions Symposium 2017
- World-leading centre for rehabilitation and disability research opens
- Improving the ability of employers to communicate with brain injured workers
- GLO High School Entrepreneurial innovation in Health & STEAM Challenge
- THC Researcher awarded GU New Researcher Grant for study in social and emotional wellbeing