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Computer game to treat neck pain

Researchers at the Zurich University of Applied Sciences have created a computer game that helps alleviate neck pain. The business partner Hocoma will be bringing the development to market.

The prototypes have already been tried out by 24 test patients. Image credit: ZHAW
The prototypes have already been tried out by 24 test patients. Image credit: ZHAW

Modern lifestyles with long days working at a computer and frequent mobile phone use combined with not being sufficiently active lead to neck pain. According to the Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW), neck pain is ranked as the fourth leading cause of ill health or disability in the world.

Researchers at the ZHAW have now developed a computer game that enables the customized and effective treatment of neck pain. It involves patients doing targeted neck movements to guide a duck over a pond to feed her chicks, for example. The patient’s movements are recorded by sensors for visualization and analysis. “Through this neck therapy, we can offer exercises tailored to the specific needs of the individual,” explained project manager Christoph Bauer from the ZHAW School of Health Professions.

The measurement system was originally used for virtual reality goggles, the ZHAW reports. Researchers enhanced this with sensor hardware and software they created and have now made two prototypes. As the business partner, Hocoma is responsible for the further development of this device so it is ready for market entry. The medtech with headquarters in Volketswil says it is a global market leader for the development, manufacturing and marketing of robotic and sensor-based devices for functional movement therapy.

The prototypes have already been tried out by 24 test patients and 12 therapists. Those who wish can also have a go at the Swiss Digital Day on 3 September. “The medium-term aim is for the computer game to be used not only with the physiotherapist but also at home,” explains Bauer.

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