in development | status: closed beta

Cerebral Palsy VR

Cerebral Palsy VR B.png

project description

A free virtual reality experience aimed to help with the treatment of children with cerebral palsy. Together with researchers at the Federal University of Health Sciences of Porto Alegre, we are developing an exergame designed to help improve body sway, an important aspect of neuromotor rehabilitation.

The player use head movements to control a flying plane through a procedurally generated scenario (currently, a forest) while trying to “catch” flying stimuli (currently, flying rings). As the player progresses, the flying stimuli become more dispersed, effectively inducing the player to keep doing head exercises while trying to score.

cerebral palsy

The us national institute of health (NIH) states that cerebral palsy is the most common movement disorder in children. It occurs In approximately 2 of every 1,000 live births worldwide. Due to an abnormal development or brain damage of a child at pregnancy or at childbirth, cerebral palsy can severely affect a child’s motor capabilities, as well as his or her cognitive skills. It may also induce seizures and the most severely affected can be expected to have a life expectancy of 30 years.

A gross motor function classification system (GMFCS) is the most Common way to measure the condition’s severity and it includes five levels ranging from the least severe - in which a child’s speed, balance and coordination are somehow limited - to the most severe - in which a child’s self-mobility is severely restricted even on weelchairs and with assistive technologies. Even though estimatives vary widely, about one third to half of all children affected also suffer with some form of Cognitive impairment.

cerebral palsy is a chronic condition and has no cure, but children affected can always be helped with supportive treatments, surgeries, medication and palliative care. parents and caregivers can often feel overwhelmed as the condition severely impacts the child’s autonomy, so All forms of attention and support to this cause are always welcome.

Head exercises can be of extreme importance on increasing the WELL BEING of children who suffer from the most severe forms of cerebral palsy (with GMFCS Levels IV and V), as their ability to control their neck and hold their heads are limited. By developing this project, we are seeking a way to Extended our reality and design a small fraction of the digital world to support the affected children, as We all deserve to effortlessly look forward towards an brighter future.

GAMEPLAY footage from the prototype phase

GAMEPLAY footage from the prototype phase

Main features

  • Play with unique gameplay mechanics developed exclusively for mobile virtual reality. Based on the very successful endless runner mobile game genre, you can play with even more freedom of movement in virtual reality which adds to an overall more immersive experience.

  • Experience An adaptive difficulty which makes the game accessible for every child. An algorithm adjust Difficulty parameters in real time to correspond the child’s performance. Default parameters are adjusted for children classified as levels IV and V on the gross motor function classification system (GMFCS).

  • Enjoy a Colorful low-poly AESTHETIC in beautiful virtual environments. enjoy Commercial grade visuals optimized to work with every tier of mobile devices compatible with virtual reality. An experience Crafted to Feel More like a full fledged mobile game than a research instrument.

  • listen to an original soundtrack that adapts to the child performance. easy listening tracks and sound effects designed to keep the children engaged in the playing session, while the algorithm behind the music composition induce the feeling of progression and acts as a simplistic scoring system for children with cognitive impairment.

Project History

THE PROJECT is being deVELOPED FOR mobile virtual reality USING UNREAL ENGINE 4.20. The project began when we were approached by researchers at the federal university of health sciences of porto alegre, as they were looking for help on developing new and more accessible assistive technologies for children with cerebral palsy. While they were researching about this condition, they noticed that children affected with more severe forms of cerebral palsy were often overlooked, possibly due to the more PALLIATIVE nature of available treatments - and therefore a lesser interest in “finding a cure” through new research. However, The significant prevalency of this condition got both us and the researchers engaged on developing and measuring a new assistive technology.

After cocreating the final idea with the leading researchers, we immediately started working on a prototype. It consisted on a flying cube controlled by head movements with no animations and purple cubes dispersed on an endless procedurally generated scenario. WE then built an adaptive difficulty system with blueprints that both recorded the player scoring history (the exact time each cube was picked or missed) and adapted the gameplay accordingly (Every cube picked would increase both the horizontal and vertical spread for the generation of the next cubes). These pseudorandom parameters ensure every experience is both infinite and unique as the elements are scattered without a predetermined position, in spite of the current difficulty level.

Our next step was to head to the nonprofit organization that would invite the children to participate on the research, and start an initial testing phase with a child who suffered with cerebral palsy. The initial feedback was overwhelmingly positive, as the child began to grasp on the rules of the game and to increasingly have fun over the playing session, which was accompanied by two physical therapists. In that day We lived A very touching and inspiring moment while we watched another glimpse on how extended realities technologies can radically benefit our future societies.

First tests with children on a nonprofit organization

First tests with children on a nonprofit organization

Next steps of development

we are very excited to keep improving cerebral palsy vr, as our internal testing already suggests it may be beneficial to increase the children’s motivation on treatment. We also wish to make a it polished experience with varied 3d art and that runs well on any google vR compatible smartphone, so we can also target children being treated by the public health system in brazil.

Currently, our app consists of a single scenario with working gameplay mechanics and research data capture. However, we aim to provide more variety on the art assets, as well as working at overall user experience, from the production to distribution. AS we see this as an exciting example for the future of health, we also want to be very clear on the instructions of use to ensure a well-thought distribution, and this may include traditional graphic design work and simple video production.

Considering an even greater investment, Cerebral palsy vr could ideally be one of many initiatives that we can produce together with health professionals to help us extend our physical reality and improve the life of many people. Regardless, our overall goal is to release cerebral palsy vr for free on the google play store and apple’s app store later this year as a simple virtual reality game designed to entertain children with cerebral palsy. As the current research at the university advances, we can aggregate our results to development and begin distributing as a free exergame to help on the physical treatment of children with cerebral palsy.

footage Showcasing the Virtual environments

footage Showcasing the Virtual environments