SHARESPACE for Health: Low Back Pain Exergame

SHARESPACE aims to improve health care. Health policies and procedures can be optimized with the use of novel extended reality technologies. SHARESPACE aims to address important challenges like improving access to interventions and more personalized treatments. In the health use-case, SHARESPACE focuses on one of the more prevalent health conditions that cause an increasing burden to society: chronic pain. SHARESPACE aims to allow patients suffering from low back pain to follow physical rehabilitation in the shape of group therapy sessions from the comfort of their homes. The research for this use-case is coordinated by SHARESPACE partner Universitat Jaume I De Castellon and the therapy will be done at the Vall d’Hebron Hospital in Barcelona. 

Vall d’Hebron University Hospital in Barcelona, Spain. Credit: Vall d’Hebron

Since physical therapy lessons offered at hospitals have the downsides of being at a fixed time or far away from the patients’ home, and have limited capacity, this mixed reality (VR and AR) application might be a solution for reducing waiting lists, assessing progress more accurately and personalizing the intervention. Technology developed by SHARESPACE allows patients to follow physical therapy in a Shared Hybrid Space (SHS) from the comfort of their own homes.  

The idea is as follows: in the SHS, patients and a therapist, that can closely follow if the patient executes the required exercises correctly, are represented by avatars. In the first phase of the research (until month 18), the patient is at home, and immersed in a VR-space with the help of a friendly-use Head Mounted Display (HMD) and body sensors to capture sensorimotor primitives. Utilizing SHARESPACE technology, the data captured by the sensors is then reconstructed making it possible to represent all the people in the SHS (all patients and the therapist) by avatars and give feedback about the performance of the physical exercises.  

In the second phase, the research is extended to AR technology. The avatars of the therapist and other patients are here projected in the real space of the patient through AR goggles. The aim is to test the theory if AR increases the sense of social presence. The final goal of this real-world scenario is increasing the tools of health systems to provide suitable and efficient care to chronic pain patients. If proven effective, SHARESPACE technology is ready to be adapted and applied to other health conditions in the future. 

Exercise for Lower Back Pain in SHS, Credit: DFKI