Naomi Kitzis: Developing Virtual Reality Games for Use in Physical Therapy

Student's Name: 
Naomi Kitzis
Advisor's Name: 
Jacob Rosen
Home University: 
Fort Hays State University
Naomi Kitzis is majoring in Mathematics and Physics at Fort Hays State University.  Naomi worked in the UCSC Bionics Laboratory under Professor Jacob Rosen in the summer of 2012. The project she worked on was designing  and implementing three dimensional games to be controlled with the two upper-limb exoskeletons that would provide force feedback to the user.  Eventually, it is hoped that this will help patients who have lost motor ability in their upper limbs by being presented as an alternative or supplement to traditional therapy.
Patients, who have suffered a stroke, are often left with weakened muscles and can find it difficult to perform daily tasks.  Through the use of three-dimensional games that patients play using two upper-limb exoskeletons, the gathering of patient progress data can be improved, and patients are provided with a more flexible physical-therapy schedule that is not dependent on a therapist.  The essential focus of this project was the development of two games: handball and number-entering, that will use the exoskeletons as the input and control devices.  Handball was designed to improve the reach of the patient, based on timing, while the number-entering game requires precision of movement.  All old and new games are developed by using the open source CHAI 3D C++ libraries instead of the previously used Microsoft Robotics Studio. Successful testing with PHANTOM Omni haptic devices showed that issues encountered in Microsoft Robotics Studio, namely stability and haptic rendering, have been resolved.