Dr. Celia Clarke, University of East Anglia
Development of a tele-rehabilitation device to enhance walking recovery early after acquired brain injury.
After a brain injury some people may experience difficulty moving their leg and therefore have problems with walking. The ability to control ankle movement has been shown to be an important feature of walking recovery following a brain injury and therefore the design of rehabilitation programmes and devices which can improve ankle control is desirable. Research programmes have investigated whether virtual reality systems can be used to deliver exercises aimed at improving ankle control, and there is evidence to suggest that these systems have led to better walking recovery. However these systems are often bulky and expensive. In this project we want to develop a smart ‘wobble board’ which will be designed to deliver ankle exercises to people with brain injury. This product aims to be a portable low cost system that could be used in both clinical settings and in people’s own homes. The aim of this study is to work in collaboration with a company called Applin & Co. to develop a smart “wobble board”. The wobble board will allow people who have problems with their ankle control following a brain injury to carry out an exercise programme independently in their own homes. They will be able to sit on a chair facing a TV or computer screen with one foot placed on the wobble board. By following instructions on the screen they will be able to carry out a range of exercises that will be designed to improve their ankle control. The programme will be designed to provide ‘remote’ feedback of the individual’s performance to a therapist working at a central clinic thus ensuring that the exercises remain challenging and relevant. The development of the wobble board will be carried out in five phases over a period of twelve months. The finished product will be a prototype to be used in further development leading to product release and sale.