CyPhy: Cyber Physiotherapy in Home Environment through 3DTI

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As the population continues to age, the need for physical therapy (physiotherapy) services increases accordingly. However, study shows that providers (clinics, hospitals, personal trainers) of physiotherapy still largely concentrates in only urban areas. Thus, although new physiotherapy workforce is expected because of the growing need, the demand in rural areas is still unlikely to be fulfilled. In the foreseeable future, the massive growth of elderly patients who suffered from physical conditions will become a great challenge for current physiotherapy providers due to their highly uneven geographical distribution. With the advance of communication technology in regular households, Telehealth is proposed to bring medical care to remote districts. However, conventional video-chat-like Telehealth medium is inadequate. Physiotherapy involves wide-range body movement of patient, and accordingly, dynamic perspective changing of the therapist. Thus, new cyber medium, with more comprehensive representation, more dynamic interest point changing, and more sophisticated controllability, must be provided to prepare physiotherapy providers for upcoming challenges from the aging population. 3D Tele-immersion (3DTI) technology allows full-body, multimodal interaction among geographically dispersed users, which opens a variety of possibilities for cyber-collaborative activities. Physiotherapy and rehabilitation are advanced Telehealth applications that can benefit greatly from the 3DTI framework due to its 360 degree coverage of user’s body. For example, we can enable preliminary remote injury assessment while the patient is at home and the therapist is at the clinic; or a patient can do tele-rehabilitation with an online trainer while a therapist follows up offline on the patient’s progress. To achieve these capabilities, we present the CyPhy (Cyber-Physiotherapy) system which exploits the richness of healthcare semantics, encompassed in correlated multimodal information, and health-related users’ attention focus to deliver high quality real-time content between therapist and patient sites to enable a virtual-reality experience in remote healthcare.

Project At a Glance