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A virtual muscle machine for kids with disabilities
Date:4/27/2010

It was her love of ballet that led her to work with children who have motor disabilities. The retired dancer, now an occupational therapist, is pioneering a new "virtual" method to analyze movement patterns in children ― and more effectively treat those with debilitating motor disorders.

Dr. Dido Green of Tel Aviv University's Department of Occupational Therapy in the School of Health Professionals is using a "virtual tabletop" called the ELEMENTS SYSTEM, developed by her partners at Australia's Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, to "move" kids with disabilities and provide home-based treatments using virtual reality tools. Combining new three-dimensional exercises with two-dimensional graphical movement games already programmed into the tabletop (which resembles an early video game), she reports not only success but also enthusiasm among her young patients.

"I've been working with children with movement disorders for the last 20 years," says Dr. Green. "By the time I meet these children, they're sick of us. They've been 'over-therapied,' and it's difficult to get them to practice their exercises and prescribed treatment regimes."

Fun for kids from three to fifteen

"The virtual tabletop appealed to children as young as three and as old as 15," Dr. Green reports. "The movement-oriented games allowed them to 'make music' and reach targets in ways that are normally neither comfortable nor fun in the therapeutic setting," she explains.

Dr. Green determined that children with partial paralysis and motor dysfunction resulting from disorders such as cerebral palsy may be helped by giving them a new interface to explore. Building upon earlier research she conducted at the Evelina Children's Hospital in London, Dr. Green found that virtual reality applications enhance the skill sets learned by her patients.

Coupled with new technology involving 3D Movement Analysis, a technique she is
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Contact: George Hunka
ghunka@aftau.org
212-742-9070
American Friends of Tel Aviv University
Source:Eurekalert  

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