Stay tuned for info on how ASSIST Lab at UCSC is using Virtual Reality to change the way we look at therapy. In the meantime please checkout our main site to learn more about our lab and its dedication to assist people with special needs using cutting edge technology. A brief overview of the ongoing research project that this site will be hosting is provided below.

Description of Research

Project Star Catcher

Immersive virtual reality gaming has potential to motivate individuals post-stroke to perform intensive repetitive task-based therapy and it can be combined with motion capture as a way to track therapy compliance and progress.

This project explores the design and preliminary evaluation of an immersive virtual reality game, titled “Project Star Catcher,” for those with weakness on one side of their upper bodies. The game mechanic is adapted from constraint induced therapy, an established therapy method where users are asked to use the weaker arm by physically binding the stronger arm. Our adaptation innovates from physical to psychological binding by providing a dynamic reward system which promotes the use of the weaker arm. Players are rewarded by scoring points when performing a rehabilitative motion to catch falling stars in an immersive, cosmic virtual reality.

Project Star Catcher was developed for HTC Vive and a preliminary evaluation was performed by users with developmental and physical disabilities. The results suggest that users are generally compliant with the game rules of using the weaker arms, but qualitative observations revealed that there are noticeable variations in user strategies for playing Project Star Catcher. The results of this project include a set of design considerations for rehabilitation games for those with developmental and physical disabilities.

Project Butterfly

With new capabilities advancing in virtual reality, we have developed a new immersive virtual reality game and therapy tool, titled Project Butterfly (PBF), which exploits the capabilities of commerically avaliable virtual reality in order to increase accessibility, affordability, and accuracy of physical therapy during Stroke Rehabilitation. PBF can be used remotely to motivate the user to perform precise and accurate rehabilitative motion while capturing behavioral and positonal real time data. PBF integrated with our CRUX (Compliant Robotic Upper-extremity eXosuit) during upper body physical therapy. PBF is currently being adapted for machine learning protocols targeted at game difficulty and evaluator adjustments, with the hopes of capitalizing upon PBF’s data generation for the development of an Artificial Intelligence Agent to optimize the results in Stroke Rehabilitation with Constraint-Induced Therapy and Mirror Visual Feedback Therapy.