VA hospitals use video games to rehab vets with brain injuries

By Mike Miliard
10:39 AM

Kinetic Muscles, Inc. (KMI), a provider of neurorehabilitation technology for stroke and cerebral palsy patients, has received a two-year Phase II Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant to study a new treatment for military veterans returning from war with traumatic brain injury (TBI).

The announcement follows the promising results of Phase I of study, which combined neuropsychological therapy and digital gaming technology. This led the Department of Defense to fund Phase II, which will validate effectiveness of the therapy system through clinical testing in VA hospitals.

KMI will collaborate with the DoD, the VA, Emory University's Division of Neuropsychology in Atlanta, and the University of Advancing Technology in Tempe – which is recognized as one of the foremost 'gaming' schools in the United States.

Traumatic brain injury is the most prevalent injury affecting today’s soldiers, and is also a major health issue for the general population. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 1.7 million Americans are affected by TBI each year, and there are 5.3 million people with permanent TBI-related disabilities in the United States.

Clinical studies have shown that video game-based therapies such as those used in KMI’s Hand Mentor – which provides an interactive training environment and encourages improved manual dexterity through intense, interactive movement – can help cognitive ability, dexterity, memory, thought processing and reasoning.

Therapeutic interventions that incorporate both state-of-the-art gaming technology and cutting-edge cognitive and motor rehabilitation strategies have the potential to be cost-effective and engaging – particularly for a generation of soldiers who have grown up playing video games.

"Treatment of TBI builds upon KMI’s neurotherapy technology platform," said Ed Koeneman, chief operating officer at KMI and principal investigator for the study. "Patients with stroke and TBI experience similar cognitive and movement deficits. KMI technology addresses rehabilitation for both groups through repetitive training of specific tasks."

David Bolman, provost of the University of Advancing Technology, added, "We are pleased to work with KMI and Emory University on this important project. This collaboration is representative of the merging of technologies that will shape healthcare in the future."

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(Photo by Sturti/ Getty Images) 

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