Game technology is being used to help burn and stroke patients in Queensland improve their mobility and quality of life. It has even assisted a young paraplegic man to walk again.
A research team led by Dr Robyn Grote at the new Queensland Motion Analysis Centre at the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital are introducing the technology to burns and stroke patients as well as those with acquired neurological disorders and complex mobility problems.
The Motion Analysis Centre provides a three-dimensional view of a patient, providing the most precise profile of gait and movement. Gait analysis uses motion capture technology, similar to that used in special effects and animation, to mathematically describe human movement.
Vicon, a developer of motion capture products, funded the development of the portable gait lab, and provided equipment and installation services.
A paediatric motion analysis facility established by Dr Grote has also cut the number of surgical interventions by up to 35 per cent, resulting in a health saving of up to $1 million per child over their lifetime. The team also hopes to use the technology to create a world-first three dimensional model targeted at treating babies.
“Prior to this technology, it was much more difficult to get an accurate view of patient abnormalities which led to misdiagnoses, further complications and repeated and sometimes unnecessary procedures,” said QLD health minister Lawrence Springborg.
Brisbane university student Finbar Mills used the technology to walk again following a 2009 motor cross accident which left him a paraplegic.
“They uncovered information about my movement, provided better diagnosis and discovered which muscle wasn’t performing properly and how it affected my gait,” said Mills.
“The process gave me insight into how my body was working and gave my rehabilitation team additional information to target my treatment. I could also view my own progress.”
Dr Grote joined Queensland Health in 1998 as the founding director of the Queensland Children's Gait Laboratory.
Grote said that clinical motion analysis, particularly gait analysis, has been her professional passion following the establishment of biomedical engineering in Australia.
"My quest of the last five years was to see this technology extended to provide a service across the lifespan for patients with complex movement disorders with the promise of significant benefits to the quality of life for patients served, the health dollar, research data and long-term planning for those with complex movement disorders," Grote said at the opening on Wednesday.