Edwin van Asseldonk (Faculty of ET), Hermie Hermens (Faculty of EEMCS) and Vivian Weerdesteyn (Radboud UMC) are developing a new game which patients can use to practice their balance at home after a stroke. The goal is to reduce the number of falls and to enable patients to live more independently. This can save costs for healthcare.
In the Netherlands, more than 300,000 people live with the consequences of a stroke. "After a stroke, many people have problems with their balance, which makes them fall more often", says Asseldonk. "The consequences of a fall - like a broken hip - can be very nasty. In addition, the uncertainty and fear of falling can have a huge impact on their life. Patients sometimes hardly dare to leave their homes, and become dependent on others."
Practising balance can prevent many problems. Training courses have already been developed, but the patient has to come to the rehabilitation centre to participate. This is very strenuous for patients. The researchers are therefore developing a game. "With a game, patients don't have to make that effort," says Asseldonk. The game allows patients to practise their walking movements at home in response to various virtual balance disturbances, such as a stumble over an uneven paving stone. The exercises are tailored to the patient's needs.
The expectation is that people will keep up practising at home longer. Weerdesteyn: "Our game ensures that people practice their balance at home, at a time that suits them. We expect that this will lead to more people practising and that they will be able to keep it up for a longer period of time. And that in the end, they will fall less often."
The research is subsidised by the Heart Foundation, ZonMW and NWO within the 'Innovative Medical Devices Initiative' (IMDI) call. This call is presented on 27 November during the conference on the ‘Hart voor duurzame zorg’-project. This project focuses on technological innovations for early recognition, prevention and treatment of cardiovascular diseases that contribute to sustainable healthcare.